Coronavirus: Rooftop concert postponed due to new B.C. ban of vehicle gatherings

It was supposed to be a rockin’ good time, a fundraising concert with a COVID-19 twist regarding physical distancing rules.

Instead, the Rooftop Rock Drive-In Concert in Prince George, B.C., has been postponed after the provincial government announced late Friday afternoon an amendment to its mass gatherings class order.

The amendment prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people at “theatres, sports arenas, conference halls, churches, recreation centres, casinos, parks, festival sites or other indoor or outside place.”

“While Phase 2 is now underway, the provincial health officer order restricting mass gatherings to no more than 50 individuals remains in place,” the province also said Friday.

“Further, the order has been amended to also include no more than 50 vehicles for outdoor drive-in events, with a restriction on the sale of refreshments.

“Anyone attending these events must stay in their cars unless they have to go to washrooms, which must be serviced with running water for proper hand hygiene.”

As the concert name suggests, the event was a drive-in only gathering and was supposed to take place from the roof of the city’s biggest rink, the CN Centre, home of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.

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The concert, which was to take place on Saturday, was also doubling as a fundraiser for cancer.

“To say that we’re disappointed and frustrated by the lack of clarity and last-minute communication as it pertains to our event is well beyond an understatement,” event producer Kyle Sampson said in a press release.

“We wholeheartedly disagree with how the order was delivered and the lack of clarity it provides, but we’re complying and postponing the event because following these recommendations is the right thing to do.”

According to Sampson, the concert was designed in a safe and socially responsible manner to raise spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the parking lot provided plenty of space, and that vehicles were to be parked in a checker-board-type pattern, leaving every other space empty.

Sampson also said patrons would have been required to stay in their vehicle and that a large volunteer base would have monitored and enforced the rules.

He noted in the press release that while the Northern Health Authority does not approve of public gatherings and events, “event organizers were informed by health officials that it met all of their requirements and standards.”

Concert partner Selen Alpay said he believes that B.C. citizens are doing their best to follow and adhere to government direction and recommendations.

“It’s a real hit to everyone who has come together to raise the spirits of people in our community, those who are just trying to navigate through these constant changes and enjoy some fantastic music.”

Sampson said while this is a setback, “we also expect real clarity on the parameters set by the provincial government for the event industry, so we can adhere to these new directives and ensure the disappointment we’re experiencing is avoided by others.”

Global News has reached out to a drive-in theatre in Enderby, B.C., regarding the new rule and will update this story if a response is received.

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