With large gatherings ruled out in B.C. this summer, Okanagan wedding venues rescheduling

With B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ruling out mass gatherings in the province through the summer, some Okanagan wedding venues say they are asking couples to reschedule, or at least pick alternate dates in case their original events can’t go ahead as planned.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are currently banned in the province as the region continues to practise physical distancing in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, Covert Farms Family Estate in Oliver was fully booked, with 10 weddings scheduled in 2020.

Now, owner Shelly Covert said they are asking couples who had weddings scheduled this summer to pick alternate dates in the fall or next year.

Covert said, in an effort to help couples forced to reschedule, the business won’t be penalizing couples who change their dates and will be honouring their 2020 prices for rescheduled events next year.

She said the winery has other income streams to help it weather the economic fallout but notes others in the wedding industry, like vendors, may see their business virtually dry up this season.

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House of Rose Winery in Kelowna was also set to host four weddings this summer.

Co-owner Aura Rose said two couples have already moved their dates to next year and the others are picking back up dates in 2021 in case their events can’t go ahead as planned this year.

“If I was a bride, I’d be really upset, but at the same time trying to find an option. That’s what we are trying to help them do,” Rose said.

“We understand it, but … I feel for all of the people that are having to move events, particularly brides, because it is very stressful.”

On Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said that mass gatherings wouldn’t go ahead in the province this summer.

“That is a much riskier prospect than ever before. We do not have enough heard immunity or community immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen,” Henry said, specifically mentioning large parades and the PNE as events that are unlikely to happen this year.

However, Henry reassured British Columbians that there will eventually be a return to large gatherings.

“I think we need to keep hold of that, that the things that we are doing right now are not forever,” she said.

Discussing smaller events like weddings and family parties, Henry advised people to “think small”, adding “we are not going to be having large gatherings, we know that those are the types of events this can be transmitted in.”

Currently, a provincial health officer order is in place banning large gatherings of more than 50 people.

It is set to expire at the end of May but could be extended by the provincial health officer.

In mid-March couples headed to the alter were already being advised to come up with a back-up plan, at that point officials were limiting gatherings to 250 people.

– with files from Shelby Thom and Sean Boynton

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