Let the speedway operate

Re: No spectators at speedway 

I have been reading a lot in our local news regarding the Penticton Speedway, and not being able to operate with spectators because of the Covid-19 restrictions. For the past 10 years or more my family and friends have attended every race we were able to. I knew this year was going to be different with many businesses not operating to full capacity or at all. In the past, the races at the speedway have been an excellent opportunity for family and friends to get together and spend the afternoon, have a BBQ and enjoy reasonably priced entertainment at the same time.

When the speedway held their first race this year, my whole family was excited and had hope that this would carry on for the remainder of the summer and fall months, and we would have something to look forward to. We brought up a couple vehicles, lawn chairs, BBQ, and snacks to enjoy the afternoon. When the news came days afterwards that the owners of Penticton Speedway had been denied their right to operate with spectators, I was shocked. When we were there, I noticed they had taken every precaution. The bleachers had been taped off to ensure physical distancing was in place. The concession was not operating to the fullest, they were only selling pop and some snacks. Even up on the top hill that overlooks the racetrack, each group stayed separated from the next.

When I was on my way to work this morning, I heard on the radio that the PNE had been given the okay to operate this year. When I heard this, I knew there must be some mistake as we have been told over and over that there would be no big events this year due to the pandemic. I investigated this once I got to work and confirmed that yes, the PNE would be up and running starting in August, and they would have their safety protocols in place. Once I investigated how the PNE would be "safely" operating, and I got to thinking I was appalled that our government and health officials would allow an event like the PNE to even take place. safety precautions or not, even with less attendees it is a crowded place. They claim they will have directional arrows to guide people in crowded areas but being out grocery shopping I know how well those work and how few people abide by them. All the cleaning measures are great too if they are done. Again, our grocery stores no longer wipe down the tills after every use and things have become much more laid back in that sense. In the end what really makes the PNE any safer than the speedway events? Being that the PNE is in Vancouver which has been BC's hotspot from the beginning, and on the other hand Penticton itself has seen very few if any cases at all. Why is an event in our small town that is held on a property of 20+ acres, with plenty of space for social distancing not even given a chance? From what I have seen in our local news, the owners have tried to reach out multiple times and have gotten nowhere. In my opinion going to the events at the speedway is much safer than even going to a beach in town. Most of the spectators at the speedway or mostly locals, unlike the beach where it is crowded with tourists from Vancouver to Alberta or farther.

When I watch the news or scroll through Facebook, I am constantly seeing how crowded the beaches are in Vancouver and yet no one bats an eye. We are allowing our kids to go back to school full time in September but denying small businesses the chance to operate safely. On multiple occasions I have seen restaurants packed without the ability to physically distance, sitting back to back with the tables behind them. My family just took a trip to Vancouver Island to visit with some family, and we were expecting the full run down, did we have a fever? Are we showing any symptoms? have we travelled? But we were not asked a single question other than, did we have masks?

I feel with so much contradiction with the so called COvid-19 rules, everyone has given up their faith in government officials and the media. How are we supposed to believe any of it when only half of the business are abiding by the rules? Citizens I can understand but there are apparent rules that need to be followed and many businesses do not. Then we have some businesses that are trying to follow said rules and they get denied to even be open to spectators. The government is always telling us to support local businesses, but how are we supposed to do that when those small businesses can't even open to the public?

If the PNE can operate, what is the difference with the Armstrong fair, all the rodeos that happen annually around the Okanagan? what about concerts and music festivals, they are much less crowded then what the PNE is even at half the capacity. What about the casinos, I know they do not have more than 1,000 people in one casino at a time, and you cannot tell me that the PNE will only be letting in 50 people at any given time?

I truly hope you can give this all some serious thought and realize that Penticton wants to support local businesses, but we need those local businesses available in order to support them. The speedway can and will operate safely and abide by the Covid-19 guidelines if they are given the chance. If Vancouver is given the opportunity to enjoy some events from before this "new normal" as you are now calling it. Why can we the locals of small-town Penticton not enjoy some of our events from before this "new normal"

Sarah Wilde, Penticton

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