Public facilities in Cranbrook are shutting their doors, events are are being cancelled at breakneck speed, and more changes are in the offing as Cranbrook — and the world — take increasingly rigorous measures to combat the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective Monday, March 16, the City of Cranbrook has closed Western Financial Place, including the Aquatic Centre and arena portion, the walking concourse, raquetball court and all recreational programming.
The closures also apply to the Memorial and Kinsmen arenas
The Cranbrook Public Library has also been closed, however, some services remain available, such as accessing online resources from home, materials can still be returned through the book drop, and library fines and fees will be waived.
The city says it will continue to track developments and work with Interior Health and the province for guidance and direction in the days and weeks ahead.
Schools in the Southeast Kootenay school district (SD5) are now on spring break as of Friday, March 13 for the next two weeks.
Schools in Cranbrook have cancelled some planned trips abroad to Alberta and Disneyland in California, however, those cancellations were geared more towards responding to parent opinion and recouping financial costs if senior levels of government restricted travel, according to SD5.
Jason Tichauer, the Director of Student Learning and Aboriginal Education, said individual schools are making the decisions to cancel trips, noting a recent announcement from Disneyland that it was temporarily closing down due to COVID-19 fears.
Bills for those trips were coming due, so schools made the decisions to cancel the trips instead, he said.
“I do know that our schools have worked with travel companies to try to secure as much as a refund as possible to lessen the burden on schools and parents,” Tichauer said.
Given the rapid pace of information-sharing and decision-making,Tichauer says it’s currently unclear how the situation may change for staff and students, if at all, once the two-week spring break holiday is over.
“We’re having a hard time predicting anything,” Tichauer said. “We do get regular updates from the provincial ministry of education, plus Interior Health, so we do get very regular updates.”
He added that SD5 has a district pandemic response plan that includes specific actions and responses for pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic stages.
There are no cases of COVID-19 in SD5 schools, he said.
Any updates to SD5 operations will be posted online to the district website, which will made in real-time by staff who are working over the spring break holiday.
A letter fro Scott MacDonald, the Deputy Minister of Education, which is posted on the SD5 website, notes that school closures at this time are not necessary, based on consultations with the Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top doctor.
At the College of the Rockies Cranbrook campus, officials have been working closely with both the Ministry of Advanced Education and Interior Health.
“We will be taking steps internally to follow the most recent guidance set forth by the Chief Provincial Health Officer, including limits on gatherings and 14-day self-isolation upon return for those students and employees who have travelled outside of Canada,” reads a statement from the College. “As the situation with COVID-19 is fluid and ever-changing, we are assessing our future activities on a daily basis.”
The Key City Theatre has canceled or postponed all performances up until March 22, which include:
March 13th – The Lonely – Postponed
March 18th – Marc Atkinson Trio – Postponed
March 19 – Kim’s Convenience – Cancelled
March 21st – Lightwire Theatre: Dino-Light – Cancelled
March 22nd – Colin James – Postponed
March 23-27 – Clown Camp – Cancelled
April 1 – White Rabbit Red Rabbit – Postponed
April 2 – Alan Kavanagh – Cancelled
April 9 – Littlejazz Orchestra – Postponed
April 15 – Mount Baker Music & Art Show – Postponed
The Key City Theatre is aiming to reschedule posponed events and will be in touch with anyone who has purchased tickets to those events. For cancelled events, the Key City Theatre will be offering refunds to anyone who purchased tickets to those performances.
“We are monitoring the situation and will be making decision on programming and events beyond March 22nd in the upcoming days,” said Galen Olstead, Managing Director for the Key City Theatre, in a statement. “We are grateful for your patience, support and generosity during these challenging times. Please take care of yourself and your family, and we will be in touch soon.”
The provincial government is asking event organizers and communities to cancel any large gatherings of over 50 people or more in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The federal govenrment is also restricting the border, and will only allow Canadian or American citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.
International flights into Canada have also been restricted to land only in Vancovuer, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
For anyone travelling abroad, the province is asking anyone who is re-entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days by staying away from work and school.
If anyone is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, do not go to a hospital emergency department. Instead, contact a primary care provider like a family doctor or call 811, the provincial health information, for guidance.
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