The Arrowsmith Hall at Coombs Fairgrounds, rented for a gathering on Tuesday evening, Nov. 17. (Arrowsmith Agriculture Association Photo)

Coombs centre operators not pleased gathering violated COVID-19 protocols

‘We are as upset as the public’

The manager of the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association (AAA) is upset after the RCMP was needed to disrupt a large assembly at the Coombs Fairgrounds, an event police said violated current COVID-19 gathering protocols.

Cpl. Jesse Foreman of the Oceanside RCMP said approximately 150 people were found in a rented indoor space.

The Coombs Fairground and Event Centre, located at 1014 Ford Rd. in Coombs, is operated by the agricultural association (AAA).

READ MORE: COVID-19: Oceanside RCMP bust big gathering at Coombs Fairgrounds

In an email, manager Megan Pattison said they “have a COVID-19 safety plan in place that incorporates guidance from the BCCDC and WorkSafeBC.”

She said at the time of booking, event organizers are informed by the AAA of their requirements to follow all provincial health orders, as well as facility guidelines, where they then sign an agreement to indicate compliance.

“At no time would we consider renting to a group that clearly indicated they were intending to violate these orders and guidelines,” said Pattison.

She said the building has since been locked and no access will be granted until a thorough cleanup and disinfecting are done.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. extends private gathering ban province-wide

“We are as upset as the public that a group we have rented to would violate the rules as set out by our association as well as the provincial health order.”

Pattison and the AAA are thankful the RCMP attended last Tuesday, and intend to co-operate with any pending investigations. A message to one of believed organizers was not returned by late Thursday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, announced on Nov. 19 that facemasks are now required in all public indoor and retail spaces, including grocery stores, except when eating or drinking.

Henry said that those unable to wear a facemask for a medical or disability related reason are exempt, but cautioned everyone to remember that not all people’s conditions are visible.

READ MORE: Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C

The provincial health officer also announced that the ban on private gatherings in the Lower Mainland is now extended to all of British Columbia for the next two-and-a-half weeks, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Henry urges B.C. residents to socialize only with fellow household members and to avoid social gatherings of all kinds until Dec. 7.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

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