British Columbia·Photos

Vancouver public spaces empty out amid call for social distancing

Public spaces around the Lower Mainland see a drop in traffic amid a call for social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Store owners see a drop in business due to fears around COVID-19

A man is pictured walking at Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Amid calls for social distancing due to the spread of COVID-19, Metro Vancouverites are taking heed.

Many public spaces around the region saw a drop in foot traffic, leaving eerily empty stores, plazas and food courts.

Ralf Dauce, the owner of The Soup Meister in North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay Market, says there's been a 15 to 20 per cent drop in traffic to his business. 

"The last couple of weeks, the overall business in the afternoon … has slowed down a little bit," Daus said, adding people were choosing to buy more takeaway products than staying and eating.

"I find that people mingle a little bit less than they used to, especially on the weekends."

Lonsdale Quay is pictured in North Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, has recommended British Columbians practise social distancing in order to restrict or stop the spread of the virus. This includes reducing or cancelling large public gatherings and events and avoiding close contact in public spaces.

A worker paints a display at Hudson’s Bay on Granville street in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Aberdeen Centre in Richmond B.C., which had already experienced a slowdown in traffic earlier this year after news of COVID-19 spreading in China kept customers away, continues to see fewer patrons. 

Michael Sun, owner of Lotus Seats in the Aberdeen Centre, says it has been 30 per cent slower than normal since the Chinese New Year. 

"It's the coronavirus," Sun said, adding most people are just staying at home. 

Aberdeen Mall in Richmond, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Henry, who has been the public face of B.C.'s response to the virus, said it was important to note these social distancing measures are temporary. 

"These are measures for now. They are not forever," she said.

"These are things we think are incredibly important for all of us in society as ways to stop the spread, to slow down [so]....we can prevent transmission to those who are most vulnerable, so we can protect our health-care system."

Robson Square is pictured in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Robson and Granville street are pictured in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Empty tables during lunch hour in the food court at the Richmond Public Market in Richmond, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
A shop owner is pictured at the Richmond Public Market in Richmond, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Infectious disease experts warn masks are ineffective at protecting the wearer and run the risk of draining the supply for medical professionals. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Lonsdale Quay is pictured in North Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Robson Square is pictured in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
A woman waits to cross the street at the intersection of Robson and Thurlow street in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
The entrance to Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Shoppers at Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Vancouver City Centre Skytrain station is pictured at the intersection of Granville and Georgia street in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
A woman sleeps in the Pacific Centre food court in Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Shoppers at Richmond Public Market in Richmond, British Columbia on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca

About the Author

Ben Nelms

Staff Photographer

Ben Nelms is an award-winning photojournalist based in Vancouver, B.C.

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