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

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

A sign encouraging COVID-19 safety steps, with the Bayside rugby clubhouse – located adjacent to Semiahmoo Secondary and the South Surrey track – in background; Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey sees 2,400 new COVID-19 cases in February

This is the lowest monthly increase since last fall

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Photo: Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
COVID-19 vaccination bookings start Monday for some Surrey seniors

First up is seniors aged 90-plus, and Indigenous seniors, elders aged 65-plus

Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole speaks during a virtual South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce town hall on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
O’Toole says South Surrey, White Rock face ‘acute’ challenges during pandemic

Federal Conservative leader speaks at local chamber town hall

Labour Minister Harry Bains addressing Surrey Board of Trade digital meeting Friday. (Screen shot)
Labour Minister says Surrey businesses’ resilience through pandemic ‘impressive’

‘Surrey’s effort in bending the curve has been among the best,’ Harry Bains says

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement significantly expands Indigenous role in Lower Mainland policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read