Dr. Henry addresses question of this year's Surrey Vaisakhi parade

Mar 12 2021, 5:10 pm

BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that despite the allowance for small outdoor gatherings, people shouldn’t be getting their hopes up for large-scale community events, such as Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade.

“A modified version perhaps, but the short answer is it’s a bit too early right now,” said Henry during a press conference on Thursday, when asked specifically about the event.

The event takes place every April, and it is the largest Vaisakhi parade in Canada and outside of India.

Henry noted she’s been in discussions with faith and community leaders over the past week about how important celebrations can be held safely, “given where we are right now in this pandemic.”

And as for the parade itself, Henry said, “Probably not, but maybe in a very limited way. I know community leaders are looking at that [and] we’ve seen some great examples with celebrations we’ve had safely in the last few months, and I expect that will be the same for Vaisakhi, as well.”

In 2019, the last time the parade was held, 500,000 people attended the event, and last year a “virtual Vaisakhi” was held after the event was cancelled in the early days of the pandemic.

BC’s restrictions and orders around gatherings were amended on Thursday, to allow for social gatherings outside of up to 10 people.

“This means your children can have a playdate with their friends – their safe group of friends – over the March break,” said Henry. “You can meet friends outside, for a coffee, a chat, a connection, a picnic in the park.”

For those who choose to meet with family members or friends, Henry stressed the importance of continuing to keep all safety measures in place and top of mind.

“Meet outdoors, keep your distance, wear a mask,” she said. “We need to focus on some of the things we can do and can do safely, and outdoors is where we need to focus right now.”

People should also not be gathering in new groups, but can continue to stick to a single core bubble of individuals.

Indoor gatherings and travel

Despite the amendment, Henry said there are no changes to the current restrictions on indoor gatherings. This includes bars, restaurants and pubs.

There is also no change to the provincial travel restrictions currently in place.

“It remains the same,” said Henry. “We need to stay local; explore your region, explore your community.”

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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