Editor’s note: The information in this article is accurate as of 9:48 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18. For the most up-to-date info regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, head to northdeltareporter.com/tag/coronavirus.
Closures and cancellations abound in Delta as the city does its part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday (March 12), the City of Delta activated its emergency plan and opened its Emergency Operations Centre to “address concerns posed by COVID-19,” according to a press release.
“The City of Delta has an extensive pandemic plan and we have the ability to adjust city services on the advice of health authorities if, and when, needed,” Mayor George Harvie said in a statement Friday. “Our number one priority is the health and well-being of Delta residents. We have been ramping up our plans over the past month as we continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19.”
By Monday, the city had closed all recreation centres, community centres, ice arenas, swimming pools, art centres, archives, senior centres and the Delta Community Animal Shelter, and also had suspended senior bus services.
“Acting under the continued advice of the Provincial Medical Health Office regarding ‘social distancing,’ it is important that the City of Delta take important steps to protect all Delta citizens. The decision to close our recreation facilities is being done in the best interest of public health,” Harvie said in a press release Sunday.
Full refunds will be provided to anyone who has registered for activities or wishes to extend their fitness pass during this closure period.
The city will use this time to deep clean the facilities and undertake some of its annual maintenance activities, as well as provide assistance to other departments requiring additional resources.
Following the direction of the Provincial Health Officer and BC Centre for Disease Control, all City of Delta-organized gatherings with 50 people or more are cancelled until further notice. On Wednesday, the city expanded the cancellations to include all non-essential events.
The list of cancelled events includes the official opening of the new North Delta Centre for the Arts on Saturday, April 4, and the Delta Triathlon, which scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 2 after a five-year hiatus.
The city has also cancelled all spring break programs, effective Wednesday, March 18.
City hall was closed late Wednesday morning, but city services remain operational via the city’s website, delta.ca.
The Delta Community Animal Shelter in Tilbury is closed to the general public and only open by appointment or for redeeming strays and/or adoptions. Scheduled visitors will be screened over the phone prior to being permitted access to the shelter.
Animals adoptions will be processed over the phone wherever possible, and strays with IDs will be returned to their owners in the field whenever possible.
All public education classes at DCAS have been cancelled until further notice.
Animal control, including calls for dangerous animals, will continue to be enforced by City of Delta bylaw staff.
For more information about the city’s response to COVID-19 and its impact to city programs, services and events — plus precautions to take to lessen the chance of contracting the virus as well as links to the Fraser Health, Health Canada, HealthLink BC and BC Centre for Disease Control websites — visit delta.ca/coronavirus.
All Fraser Valley Regional libraries, including North Delta’s George Mackie Library, are closed to the public for an indefinite period of time, effective Tuesday, March 17, and all library programs are cancelled.
Book drops will remain open, and any items that cannot be returned that way, such as telescopes and ukuleles, can be kept until the library reopens. All fines are suspended during the closure.
All of the library’s digital content — including eBooks, audiobooks, news and magazines, music and video streaming, eLearning, “For Kids” and databases — is available online 24-7.
All FVRL facilities will be sanitized before they reopen.
On Wednesday, the Delta Police Department closed all of its community police stations. The move came a day after the department suspended fingerprinting services at both its headquarters in Ladner and the North Delta Public Safety Building.
Deltassist has also cancelled several programs and services. As of Wednesday morning, the society suspended its weekly bread and weekly produce programs, and limited its seniors driver service until further notice.
As well, Deltassist has cancelled two of its scheduled events — the Safe Talk Workshop on March 21 and the Parent/Caregiver Workshop on Substance Use and Youth on March 28 — and all income tax appointments from March 19 to April 1.
Deltassist will be providing timely updates regarding changes to services and scheduled events at deltassist.com/news.
The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island also closed its doors — rather, its gate — for at least the first week of spring break.
“Due to the high risk associated with social contact, the sanctuary has a responsibility to slow the potential spread of the virus due to the high number of visitors that generally visit here during the spring break period,” according to a notice posted on the sanctuary’s website. Last March, the sanctuary hosted 16,000 visitors, 12,000 of which were during the two weeks of spring break.
The closure, which took effect at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, will be re-assessed regularly, and updates will posted on reifelbirdsanctuary.com and on Twitter (@ReifelSanctuary).
Cineplex and Landmark cinemas, including Cineplex Cinemas Strawberry Hill, are closing their doors until April 2.
Meanwhile, the province announced on Tuesday, March 17, that classes for students K-12 will be suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said all students who are currently on track to move onto the next grade, or to graduate, will do so and the province is working with post-secondary institutions.
Arrangements will also be made to help provide school meals for at-risk students, he noted.
“We’ve urged schools and school districts to begin planning now to ensure a continuity of learning while in-class instruction is suspended in B.C. schools indefinitely,” Fleming said.
Some schools will remain open so kids of essential workers can still receive care, Fleming said. He said the province was gathering information about how many of the province’s students would qualify.
Prior to the province’s announcement, B.C. School Sports officially suspended all school sporting activities Tuesday. The provincial overseer for school sports made the early decision to curb the spread of COVID-19 as some teams train and travel to tournaments during the break.
The spring season is a big one for athletes who specialize in track and field, women’s soccer, rugby, badminton, golf, and tennis, among others.
Also on Tuesday, the province announced it had set up a a new dedicated COVID-19 information line to reduce the burden on B.C.’s 811 HealthLink line, and is offering an online self-assessment service for people who want to check their health status.
The toll-free phone line is open at 1-888-268-4319 (1-888-COVID19) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week for non-medical information about the virus. That includes the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and services from the provincial and federal governments.
Anyone who thinks they may have the novel coronavirus should also contact HealthLink BC by dialling 811.
The B.C. health ministry has also established an online self-assessment tool for people to determine if they need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. The online survey can be done by people for themselves or on behalf of a someone else who is unable to.
The test includes questions about severity of symptoms and recent travel history, as well as instructions on what to do if someone does in fact need to be tested or see a doctor.
— with files from Katya Slepian, Travis Paterson, Tom Fletcher and Ashley Wadhwani