British Columbia

Vancouver park and beach parking lots to remain closed after weekend decrease in physical distancing

The Vancouver Park Board has decided to extend the closure of parking lots at many parks and beaches after a decrease in public compliance with physical distancing over the weekend.

The province says it has no intention of punishing people who disobey physical distancing guidelines

The Vancouver Park Board says park rangers issued 1,880 physical distancing warnings over the weekend. (Anne-Julie Têtu/Radio-Canada)

The Vancouver Park Board has decided to extend the closure of parking lots at many parks and beaches after a decrease in public compliance with physical distancing over the weekend.

The lots, first closed on March 23, were set to reopen this week. However, many people rushed to public parks and beaches on the weekend, causing outrage online, as the region experienced record-breaking warm weather.

"This weekend, our staff observed larger than normal groups of people at destination beaches, as well as a notable reduction in physical distancing," said Shauna Wilton, deputy general manager of the Vancouver Park Board.

"While we echo Dr. Bonnie Henry's advice to get outside, we need to ensure the public is able to do so safely and we want to remind people to access their neighbourhood spaces and refrain from driving to destination locations."

The board says park rangers have issued more than 11,000 warnings to groups failing to keep a distance of two-metres from others. Over the weekend, 1,880 warnings were issued.

Go outside but also practise physical distancing

On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that although she, too, noticed groups congregating outdoors, she said that, for the most part, people seemed to be staying apart. 

"The vast majority of them were in small groups, sitting apart," she said. "The vast majority of people are doing the right thing and taking this to heart."

Watch as Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why she believes the province's "positive" approach to physical distancing rules is working:

B.C. will not take punitive approach to those not physically distancing

11 months ago
1:52
Dr. Bonnie Henry says the vast majority complied with physical distancing guidelines this past weekend, and bylaw officers are taking a positive approach. 1:52

Yet, despite all the warnings handed out in Vancouver alone, Henry says the province has no intention of taking punitive action against people who violate physical distancing orders. Instead, she plans to continue with the positive approach of asking people to do the right thing.

"I think it's worked for us and we will continue to do that," she said.

Henry has long championed outdoor recreation during the pandemic, saying on April 29 that the risk of transferring COVID-19 would be "infinitesimally small if somebody walks by you." However, she has been consistent that physical distancing guidelines need to be followed.

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