It’s estimated Surrey’s 2019 Vaisakhi Parade in Newton drew more than 500,000 people. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

Too early to decide on Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancellation despite COVID-19 outbreak: Dix

Surrey event attracts more than 500,000 people

UPDATE: The 2020 Surrey Vaisakhi Parade has now been cancelled. Read the story here.

B.C.’s health minister hasn’t ruled out the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade going ahead this year, despite ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Adrian Dix said there are three “significant” Vaisakhi events in the Lower Mainland, including Surrey. The other two are in Vancouver and Abbotsford, he said.

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said she’s received a lot of questions lately about small- and large-scale events. She said there’s a risk-assessment process in place to determine if events are viable.

“It’s a guidance that helps us look at who’s coming, is it indoors, is it outdoors, what are the things that increase the risk, but also what are the things that organizers of mass gatherings can do to help reduce the risk of participants,” she said. “That can be anything from encouraging and supporting people not to come if they’re sick; things like refunds or deferring payment, encouraging people and giving them the ability to clean their hands regularly, to allow space if things are outdoors.

“For example, it’s much easier and much less risk than indoors.”

She also mentioned that not having “communal meals” would be helpful.

“There’s a whole host of things we can do to reduce risk and still allow these important gatherings to happen.”

Henry added that people should recognize “the transmission that we have right now is very low, and most of our risk is really around (international) travel.” She said that including Washington state as well.

READ ALSO: Date set for Surrey’s huge Vaisakhi Parade, Feb. 10, 2020

The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade, which is the largest outside of India, is set for April 25.

The 21st-annual event is a daylong celebration of the birth of the Sikh faith, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

When asked if the Surrey event, which is expected to attract 500,000 people, should be cancelled, Dix said the event is “a little distance away.”

“But the same applies here that we have a risk-assessment model that can be applied to every event, and we’re hoping event organizers in circumstances like that engage with health authorities to make decisions in the best interest of all the people that might go and the whole community,” said Dix.

He said the health authorities, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal will be following up with the organizers.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, but also said it’s not too late for countries to act on it.

READ ALSO: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic

For more coverage on COVID-19 and coronavirus, visit surreynowleader.com/tag/coronavirus.

– With files from Tom Zillich

CoronavirusSurreyVaisakhi

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

OBITUARY: Sherrold Haddad brought giant Canadian flag to Surrey car dealership, built community

‘An amazing man, business person and community leader,’ friend Bruce Hayne posted to Facebook

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

MARCH 28: Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read