Normally around this time, people in British Columbia would be excited to enjoy a lot of activities outside, like going to Pacific National Exhibition and lining up to go on a bunch of thrilling rides and eat plenty of tasty food.
However, the current times are still far from normal.
As the year shifts from spring to summer, B.C. remains in the midst of a third wave of the ongoing pandemic that has affected the world for over a year.
Restrictions have been strengthened in the province since late March and will last until May 25, with the possibility of an extension.
During that time, the PNE fair had plans to reopen on May 1, with a smaller capacity and fewer days being open to the public. Among other safety measures being enforced, social distancing would be required, and guests two years old and above would be required to wear a mask. Those plans were originally delayed until after the May long weekend, but are now officially cancelled due to the high reports of COVID-19 cases.
Despite this, it is still possible for people to have a safety-conscious experience at an amusement park.
One such example is Central City Fun Park. To minimize the risk of infection while allowing people to have a place to go enjoy themselves, the attraction has added some precautions to protect people’s safety. As of April 1, some of these precautions include reducing maximum occupancy to 70 per cent to lower interactions of groups of people, spacing out their arcade machines to comply with social distancing rules, and having staff complete a COVID safety check before starting a shift.
But as someone who grew up going to the PNE every few summers during high school and creating fun memories, it’s good that the fair will not be opening up this year.
I will admit that I would love to go to Playland again in the future with friends, but under the current circumstances, it is too much of a risk for Playland to reopen without the high probability of people getting infected with COVID.
Vaccines are slowly being given out as the pandemic gradually loses momentum in B.C., and a sense of normalcy slowly returns. It will still take until June, as of right now, for everyone to receive their first dose of the vaccine if they want one.
While Central City Fun Park is able to remain open by complying with safety restrictions, I still believe that closing amusement parks are arguably better at the moment since only so much can be done to protect people while still allowing them to have some fun.
When it comes down to it, having Playland closed for the time being is for the best. It’s possible the province will have the virus under control enough to allow the PNE fair and other amusement parks to open safely next summer.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Playland at the PNE was closed. It has since been corrected to say that the PNE fair has been cancelled.