British Columbia

24 new cases of COVID-19 connected to pub trivia night, say health officials

Fraser Health recently added a Feb. 2 trivia night at a Port Moody pub to its COVID-19 public exposure page.

Fraser Health recently added a Feb. 2 trivia night at Port Moody's St. James's Well to public exposure list

Fraser Health is warning of COVID-19 exposure at St. James's Well in Port Moody after a Feb. 2 trivia night. (Susanna da Silva/CBC)

A pub trivia contest held in the Fraser Health region is now at the centre of a growing COVID-19 outbreak, even though events like pub trivia nights are currently banned under public health orders. 

"While we are unable to confirm specific details involving individual businesses, we can confirm that an event involving a 'trivia night' at a pub in the Fraser Health Authority has resulted in 24 primary cases of COVID-19, as well as numerous secondary cases including an outbreak at a child centre," the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Fraser Health recently added the Feb. 2 trivia night at the St. James's Well pub in Port Moody to the region's COVID-19 public exposures page

In a Feb. 12 Facebook post, St. James's Well said both staff and customers contracted COVID-19 between Feb. 2 and Feb. 7. The post said the pub was closing until Feb. 16.

"Out of an abundance of caution for patrons, staff, friends and family, we have decided to close our doors and do a deep and thorough clean of our premises," said the post.

The pub owner declined to be interviewed by CBC News.

According to the ministry, current public health orders bar pubs and restaurants from holding any events that draw people together, including trivia contests. 

"Promoting or advertising a single event that brings people together during a specific time frame is not allowed," said the statement.

But Jeff Guignard, executive director of the B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees, says more often than not it's the customers who cause the problems, not the pubs. 

"Ultimately, you can go out and do these things safely if you follow the rules," he said. "It's patrons that choose to believe that the rules don't apply to them, and they try to squeeze in extra people [at a table], or they mingle between other tables, which you're just not allowed to do."

On Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry warned that gatherings flouting COVID-19 safety protocols were responsible for 40 per cent of new COVID cases, citing an unnamed establishment that recently hosted 50 people for a "games night."

Henry said people need to hold each other accountable for stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

"We in public health cannot be everywhere. We can't be in every pub, or restaurant or business," she said.

"This is the message we are trying to put out there: [gatherings have] implications, even though you think that you're not at risk, or your family is not at risk."

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