COVID-19: Abbotsford, Surrey weddings cause concern that social-distancing rules not being followed

A reader sent in this photo of a gathering of people at York Center in Surrey on Friday (March 20). (Submitted photo)A reader sent in this photo of a gathering of people at York Center in Surrey on Friday (March 20). (Submitted photo)

What can people do if they feel that others aren’t respecting the province’s – and the world’s – call for social distancing?

That’s the question that’s top of mind for many people as more and more COVID-19 cases emerge in B.C. and beyond everyday.

An Abbotsford wedding is currently being held today, March 21, despite the warnings from the provincial government, telling Canadians to keep their distance from one another.

These photos of a March 21 wedding in Abbotsford were taken off a Snapchat video.

This isn’t the only event as of late that has gone against B.C.’s provincial ban on large gatherings.

In the past few days, Black Press Media’s Surrey publication, the Surrey Now-Leader, has received several emails and calls from people concerned about the public’s lack of social distancing, including a “full-blown” soccer game at a Surrey park, a party in a residential neighbourhood and alleged wedding celebrations at a Surrey business centre and a home.

In her briefing in Vancouver on Friday, March 20, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, “I would encourage people to use social media to call people out, to say, ‘This is what we need to do now. We need to keep our germs to ourselves. We need to have small groups. We need to go online.’”

Henry said that when she’s been walking around recently, she’s seen a lot of young people who “feel like they’re immune to this, perhaps.”

“I look at the young people in my life and they spend all their time texting each other and they’re sitting right next to each other anyway. Let’s do that now because the people we’re going to bring it home to are the people that are closest to us, and that may be our grandparents and our parents, that may be somebody in our life whose immune system is compromised.”

Henry declared a provincial health emergency Tuesday as a result of the rising number of cases.

The public health emergency declaration allows for provincial health officer to make verbal mandates, and Health Minister to amend regulations without consent from the B.C. Legislature.

In a statement to Black Press Media, the Joint Information Centre said that all British Columbians “must abide” by Henry’s orders, otherwise she “can enlist peace officers to enforce them if needed.”

These orders, according to the statement, “protect our most vulnerable, our health care system, and our health care workers who are undertaking a tremendously difficult task,” adding that while these orders are “temporary measures,” they will have “a positive long-term impact.”

The Now-Leader has reached out to both the City of Surrey and the Joint Information Centre to find out how and who people can contact about concerns with social distancing, as well as what kind of enforcement measures can be taken.

In her briefing on Thursday, March 19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the COVID-19 precautions are “not optional.”

“This is not optional, and I want to be very clear that everybody has to take these actions now,” Henry said.

– With files from Tom Fletcher and Lauren Collins

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