Concerns are being raised on social media that people are packing White Rock’s pier, promenade and waterfront in large numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a recommendation from the provincial government that all residents practise “social distancing.”
“Take a drive down to White Rock beach. You will find people in close contact, on the pier, restaurants, patios, lining up for fish and chips, parking lots full, which means they are ALL touching the parking meters, and likely their faces,” Breanne McLeavy wrote on Peace Arch News’ Facebook page.
“This is the beginning of the end, for those, choosing to self-isolate now, and when it becomes mandated quarantine. Let’s put our privilege aside, and do what is best for the community, country and the world. #socialdistancing”
Despite some calls to close or limit public access to these areas, no plans have been announced by the city to do so.
Communications and government relations manager Donna Kell told Peace Arch News Thursday morning that while the city has also been hearing from people with these concerns – particularly after the closure of city hall to the public on Wednesday – there has been, as yet, no decision to close off the waterfront.
But she said the city is urging people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly – and mindful of social distancing – during the current crisis.
“We want to encourage people to go outside and get fresh air, but to do it responsibly and safely and think about others,” she said.
That means spreading out and keeping a distance between people in any public space – including the pier and promenade – rather than clumping together in concentrated groups, she said.
Kell added that the closure of city hall to the public does not mean that city operations have been suspended.
“We’re still available online and by phone,” she said.
“We’re still here and still sorting out what can be done, and looking at ways to work remotely wherever possible.”
Kell said the closure of city hall to the public was done “for the protection of the community, to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus – and also for the protection of staff.”
Regular council meetings will continue every two weeks, she said (the next is scheduled for March 23) although meetings for city committees have been suspended until the end of May.