Here's the PNE's plan to reopen this summer, now that more COVID-19 restrictions are lifting
The past few months have been a rollercoaster for Vancouver's annual summer fair, with uncertainty around how COVID-19 restrictions will impact its operations.
As B.C. enters the next phase of its restart plan on Thursday, the PNE Fair has decided it will run in a more limited way after all, in spite of saying in the spring that wouldn't be possible.
"After carefully considering a new way forward in light of increasing vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 case counts, we are extremely pleased to welcome visitors to the 2021 PNE Fair," said PNE president and CEO Shelley Frost in a news release.
"The PNE team has worked tirelessly to plan for a reduced capacity fair with a more limited scope that still delivers the fun that people have come to expect, and to that end we have been successful."
On Wednesday, the PNE detailed its reopening plan and announced tickets would go on sale on Friday. An in-person event will run from Aug. 21 to Sept. 6 and will include food and live performances like SuperDogs, the West Coast Lumberjack Show and a nightly pyrotechnics show. The agriculture centre will be open as well.
"This is good news not only for our staff, exhibitor and concessionaire partners, but also for the many young, first-time employees who rely on the PNE to pay for school or support their families," Frost said.
"The PNE Fair has been a landmark cultural event for generations, and we are excited to share it with British Columbians once again."
In the spring, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there wouldn't be "big events of any sort, even outdoors" in the province this summer. When that was announced, PNE organizers said "even a modified, lower capacity in-person PNE Fair will not be possible in 2021."
But with more restrictions lifting on July 1, B.C.'s top doctor says outdoor events of up to 5,000 people can run this summer.
As well, fairs and festivals – or what Henry called "flow-through events" – can return to normal, as long as they have a COVID-19 plan in place. Henry explained people have the freedom to move away from others and spread out at those events.
Even so, Frost told CTV News Vancouver Tuesday that some buildings normally used for the fair have already been rented out for the summer after Henry's previous comments.
"On May 3 when it was made loud and clear to us that we would not be able to have any kind of large scale outdoor event this summer, we basically turned off our planning," Frost explained.
Tickets for this year's PNE are $15 for adults and $12 for kids and seniors. Admission is free for children under the age of five. Capacity will be limited, so tickets must be purchased in advance for a specific day.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Shannon Paterson