It’s estimated Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade in Newton on Saturday drew more than 500,000 people. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

It’s estimated Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade in Newton on Saturday drew more than 500,000 people. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancelled amid COVID-19 outbreak

Organizers have made the ‘difficult decision’ to cancel the 2020 event ‘until further notice’

The annual Surrey Vaisakhi Parade has been cancelled for 2020.

The organizers of the event, which was scheduled for April 25, have made the “difficult decision” to cancel the 2020 event “until further notice or a significant change in the transmission of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.”

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, March 11, 2020

READ ALSO: Cancelled, postponed Surrey events due to coronavirus outbreak, March 11, 2020

Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, the organizers, have been “closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in our region,” according to a release Thursday (March 12).

“Today’s decision follows days of extensive consultation with health officials, regionally and provincially, including the Fraser Health Authority, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the BC Provincial Ministry of Health, and discussions with organizers of other Vaisakhi celebrations around the region. The executive of the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar made the determination that the best and safest way to proceed under the circumstances, is to cancel the 2020 event.”

The release adds that the health and safety of the public is “the highest priority and consideration for the organization.”

The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade, which is the largest outside of India, attracts more than 500,000 people annually. The parade is a celebration of the birth of the Sikh faith.

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that 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.”

The cancellation comes just two days after Health Minister Adrian Dix told the Now-Leader that it was too early to determine whether the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade should be cancelled or not.

READ ALSO: Too early to decide on Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancellation despite COVID-19 outbreak: Dix, March 11, 2020

“It’s a little distance away,” Dix said Tuesday. “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.

For the latest stories on COVID-19 and coronavirus, visit surreynowleader.com/tag/coronavirus.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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