Four Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association divisional hockey game finals are scheduled for this Saturday, March 14, 2020 at the Sardis Sports Complex as part of Hockey Day in Chilliwack. A decision if the event will go ahead due to COVID-19 concerns will be made by Friday. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

COVID-19 has Chilliwack in wait-and-see mode for large gatherings at public facilities

So far it’s business as usual as city hall monitors the situation, waits for word from Fraser Health

As major events with large gatherings of people are being cancelled or postponed across the country due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Chilliwack residents may be wondering what the coming days hold for local events and public facilities.

The short answer is that the situation is changing hour by hour with different organizations making internal decisions while city hall follows the lead of Fraser Health with regard to public facilities.

Mayor Ken Popove said in a statement Thursday that city staff are in regular communication with the health authority. Staff have completed a review of the city’s “Pandemic Response Plan,” and they are conducting advance planning on ensuring the continuation of essential municipal services.

As of Thursday afternoon, however, everything is still open and it’s business as usual.

“The City of Chilliwack is closely monitoring the situation and is in regular communication with Emergency Management BC (EMBC) as well as local and provincial health authorities,” Popove said.

“The primary responsibility for pandemic planning and response lies with the health authority. Any actions we take will be based on advice and consultation with EMBC and the health authorities. They are the subject matter experts and are responsible for advising local governments and the public on the virus and steps to take.”

By Thursday a number of upcoming local events had been cancelled or postponed. Organizers of the Rise FC 6 mixed martial arts event planned for April 4 at the Landing Sports Centre decided to postpone, and the All About Fishing event at Heritage Park set for this weekend has been cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack mixed martial arts event postponed due to COVID-19 concerns

• READ MORE: Chilliwack’s All About Fishing event cancelled over COVID-19 concerns

The Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) is hosting Hockey Day in Chilliwack this weekend at the Sardis Sports Complex, an event that marks the culmination of the hockey season. Four divisional cup final games are planned, as are an awards ceremony where every team is to be honoured.

Whether or not the event will go ahead is the subject of discussion Thursday both at the CMHA level, but also at BC Hockey where decision are being made about all end-of-year minor hockey events in the province.

“At this time, BC Hockey has not cancelled any events, and each scheduled event will have additional precautions communicated through the hosts directly to the participants,” said BC Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko in a memo dated March 10.

As for city-owned facilities such as halls, leisure centres and the arenas, Mayor Popove said any decision to close them or to ban large gatherings will come at the direction of the Fraser Health.

“We are placing signage at civic facilities to remind members of the public and staff to wash their hands and stay away if they are feeling sick,” Popove said.

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