Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s declaration that large-scale events will not be occurring in B.C. this summer has created a big obstacle for event organizers across the province, and Abbotsford has felt the shock waves of that announcement.
Henry specifically pointed out that events like the PNE and Vancouver Pride will be drastically different in the COVID-19 era.
“Realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer,” Henry said during a news conference on Saturday.
“That is a much riskier prospect than ever before. We do not have enough herd immunity or community immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen.”
The next big local event in Abbotsford is the annual Canada Day celebration on July 1.
Alex Mitchell, the City of Abbotsford’s public affairs officer, stated that 2020 will see a virtual celebration.
“Canada’s Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault recently encouraged Canadians to celebrate Canada Day in a virtual way,” she said.
“The City of Abbotsford’s Canada Day Celebrations are built on community partners, and we look forward to working with them to create a virtual Canada Day.
“More details of online engagement activities will be shared in the weeks ahead. Bringing our community together and creating community memories has always been the goal for Canada Day.”
Mitchell stated that a website will be launched with additional information and details in the near future.
The Abbotsford Agrifair, which is scheduled to run from July 31 to Aug. 2, is still evaluating its plans.
“The Agrifair board has a timeline and an approach,” stated fair manager Melanie Kish. “We will post more information in the coming days, ensuring we are in strict accordance with the public health authority guidelines.”
The Abbotsford International Airshow, slated to occur from Aug. 7 to 9, is also adopting a wait-and- see approach.
“Our primary goal every year is to produce an event that is safe for our spectators, performers, and volunteers. We remained hopeful that by August, the spread of COVID-19 would be minimized and the Abbotsford Airshow will be able to proceed as planned,” stated the airshow’s media and performer operations spokseperson Jadene Mah.
“The Airshow continues to closely monitor the rapidly evolving situation concerning COVID-19 including the recommendations of government and public health agencies.
“We are developing contingency plans for a wide range of potential scenarios, including postponement or cancellation. Our top priority is the health and safety of our spectators, participants and the community. Further updates will be provided when they are available.”
Mah told fans to check the show’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page for additional information on how they will adjust in the COVID-19 era. The group last posted an official update on March 17, stating that they are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and recommendations from the government and public health officials.
The Abbotsford Centre has the Gnarly Barley Brew Festival scheduled for Aug. 29 and the ’90s Nostalgia event set for Sept. 8.
The CEBL’s Fraser Valley Bandits, who were set to open their second season on May 8 at the centre, have also seen their season postponed. It’s unclear when, or if, the 2020 season will occur.