The B.C. indoor venue seating guidelines are too confusing

It’s hard to tell how people should sit or stand, and venues and artists are being punished

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)


On Oct. 25, the provincial B.C. health officials released a statement that said, “Up to 100% of the seated operating capacity of a place may be used for the purpose of a seated inside event, and up to 100% of the standing operating capacity of a place may be used for the purpose of a standing inside event.”

However, the provincial and regional guidelines also say  that for concerts and other selected events, “If more than 50 people are attending, all spectators must be seated.”

There’s a bit of a problem though. In some circumstances, these regulations make no sense.

Indoor events are not allowed to be held “unless the event is held as a seated inside event,” and that organizers “must not permit a place to be used for or must not organize an inside event as a standing event,” if it is held indoors, and 50 people are in attendance.

The statement goes on to say that indoor events must make sure there “is seating available for each participant, and each participant is provided with a seat.” And that participants “are seated throughout the place in such a way as to use all available space.” Does that mean every guest in Rogers Arena may stand or sit without a mask on if they are placed in a spot with a seat? Or are they not allowed because there are more than 50 people at the event?

Many are struggling to wrap their minds around what this statement even implies. Some local venue owners have spoken out against such regulations, complaining how they don’t feel they make sense. As confusing as they are, these guidelines even caused a cancellation of a recent show at the Rickshaw because the venue only had 80 per cent of the seating available for the audience, regardless of if they were actually sitting or standing.

Most would agree that this is definitely more confusing than beneficial. It makes more people frustrated than calm. Just check the vaccination card, limit capacity, and get on with the shows. It might not be that simple, but anything must be simpler than this.

More artists are going on tour, and people just want to go back to a simpler time where we can go to a concert while still being responsible and safe. These guidelines don’t help calm the anxiety, and if anything, they might just be adding to it. 

In fact, it might just cause people to overthink whether they’ll be wasting their money or if the show will be cancelled because of how convoluted and hot and cold this system is. 

It seems like this was put into place to give people more answers, but it’s causing more stress than it’s worth. Not only that, but it can inadvertently give certain venues a bad rep for the unreliability of such things.

The province needs to either get rid of or update these guidelines because they make very little sense to the majority of the population.