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Mayor says White Rock Pier will close if crowds continue
WHITE ROCK -- White Rock’s mayor is reminding the public to practice physical distancing as large crowds of people continue to show up at the city’s famous pier.
This week’s sunny skies have attracted thousands of British Columbians who have been forced to work from home or have been laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Families are also taking advantage of the sunny weather as they prepare for what will be an extended spring break.
“We want people to be able to enjoy that beauty," said White Rock mayor Darryl Walker. "Frankly, we think it’s healthier for them to be out in fresh air than stuck inside, but there are a few rules that we’re simply asking them to abide by."
Walker says physical distancing will be key to keeping public spaces open.
“If we can’t get people to help us by controlling what they're doing themselves, then it may be that we come to that final decision where close the pier,” Walker told CTV News.
Clusters of people could be seen walking along the pier and promenade Friday afternoon.
”It’s a shame because this is kind of an outlet for people to come down here and go for a walk and you should be able to keep your distance,” said Paul Black, who lives in neighbouring South Surrey.
Others say closing the area is likely for the best.
“I think that’s a good idea. I do. I think we can walk our city streets, we don’t have to come here we just prefer to because it’s so beautiful. But as I say, we’re trying to avoid peak periods,” said Leslie Cormac-Wilson.
She and her husband have been taking their daily walk earlier, to avoid the crowds that form around noon.
There are also concerns about the lines forming outside restaurants along Marine Drive.
The province banned dine-in service at all B.C. restaurants Friday afternoon, but takeout and delivery remains an option.
”They can have takeout, but if the takeout puts people in jeopardy is it really any better than sitting inside? And the answer is obviously no,” said Walker.
Some White Rock restaurants say even that isn’t worth the risk.
”People are not quite getting it yet, so we have stopped takeout, we are just closing it down,” said Joel Villanueva, owner of Primo’s Mexican Grill.
Villanueva said he had to lay off all of his staff this week.
He says it was "heartbreaking," but necessary to keep everyone safe.
Some in the community feel people aren’t taking the pandemic seriously.
“The younger people don’t seem to mind it as much, being close. Us older seniors want to be farther away, because we have more to lose,” said Shar Anderson as she walked down the promenade.
Walker says city hall is closed and most staff are now working from home.
City council has been assessing the situation in the community as the virus continues to spread.
Staff plan on putting out signs at parks and other public places to remind people about the dangers of the pandemic in the coming days.