Dr. Henry says no large gatherings will be happening this summer

No 'big events' this summer

Those looking forward to any large events this summer, like festivals or parades, should temper their expectations — there's a good chance it's not going to happen.

During Saturday's daily press conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said large events like the PNE will not be running this summer, in an effort to keep the transmission of COVID-19 at bay.

“Realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer. That is a much riskier prospect than ever before,” Dr. Henry said.

“We'll see in B.C. and globally, those types of events, large parades, large mass gathering where we all come together, those will not be happening this summer.”

Just last week, Shambhala Music Festival, which attracts more than 15,000 people to the Kootenays over a single weekend in late July, said it was still planning on proceeding, until organizers hear otherwise from health officials. Kelowna Pride Week is currently scheduled to begin on June 6.

In the summer, the Okanagan is a popular place for other gatherings like weddings, but Dr. Henry says people need to “think small" over the coming months.

“Those family celebrations when we spend time together, wedding and parties, where we share food and we hug and where we care for each other in a very close way, unfortunately right now those are the things that are risky,” she said. “We need to start thinking about planning small events.”

Community transmission of the virus has continued in B.C., although at a much slower rate than what was feared just a few weeks ago. Dr. Henry says the majority of this transmission has come from close contact between family and friends, and not necessarily from fleeting contact like may occur at a grocery store.

If B.C. continues to see transmission rates fall over the next month, the province may start to ease off some restrictions that have been put in place, like allowing elective surgeries and returning students back to school, in some type of modified way. But Dr. Henry said this “new normal” of social distancing will be around for a long time.

“We need to find a sweet spot, a balancing of connection that allows us to be with close contacts and close families but still protecting our healthcare system, protecting those who are more vulnerable to having severe illness with this virus, so it's going to be a modification for the next year.

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