As the weather warms up amid the coronavirus pandemic, some residents in Metro Vancouver are questioning whether too many of their neighbours are heading to the city’s parks and beaches too quickly.
On the first sunny May weekend where temperatures climbed to near 25° C, many residents snapped photos of crowded parks and beaches. Some questioned whether the lack of physical distancing would lead to more coronavirus cases.
The province announced its restart plan earlier this week, which includes extending social contact to a small number of loved ones — between two to six people — and reopening several business service sectors come May 19.
However, there appeared to be crowds much larger than that at some of the city’s most popular outdoor hangout spots on Friday evening.
“Pretty much nonexistent social distancing at Kits Beach this Friday evening. People sure are keen to get out. What will this lead to?” David Fine wrote on Facebook.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that while people are welcome to enjoy the outdoors with those close to them (family members or small, physically distanced groups), she doesn’t want to see large groups congregating.
“I think most people are doing the right thing,” she said at her Saturday press conference. “What we see is a visible minority. But because they’re outside we do see them.”
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She added we’re not yet safe from the coronavirus, and urged people to follow physical distancing guidelines to “protect all of us.”
“Outside the risk is lower, but it’s not zero if you’re having close contact with someone over a period of time,” she said, adding people gathering in groups could bring the virus home to the people who mean the most to them.
Here’s what some of Vancouver’s popular parks and beaches looked like this weekend:
This was Kits Beach on Friday night……
— Ken Chan (@iamkennethchan) May 9, 2020
A friend just shared this from #Kitsilano.
It’s only Friday and the next few days are going to be sunny and hot in #Vancouver. We all want to get out and there’s limited space, that’s the problem.#covidvancouver #covid19bc pic.twitter.com/DvUTWgwFRz
— Farhan Mohamed (@farhanmohamed) May 9, 2020
Kits beach Friday night pic.twitter.com/B9d4EiWW3a
— Susan Lazaruk (@SusanLazaruk) May 9, 2020
Today english bay wtf pic.twitter.com/kN9xjRJxKO
— Steve stovman (@Thestovman) May 9, 2020
Earlier this week, Henry said she believes the province will “do the right thing” and continue to follow guidelines when restrictions are eased after the May long weekend.
On Thursday, she said British Columbians have taken the province’s COVID-19 regulations “seriously” and that “we understand our responsibilities to our community.”