VANCOUVER -- Stanley Park is completely closed to cars as of at noon on Wednesday, and cyclists have been asked to avoid riding on the seawall in an effort to stop people from getting too close to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malcolm Bromley, general manager of the Vancouver Park Board, made the announcement in a news conference Tuesday. The decision comes after weeks of pleas for residents to keep at least two metres away from others who are not members of their own household to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re doing it to reduce congestion in the park, to provide space on the roads within the park, and to relieve congestion to the adjacent seawall,” he said.

Over the past week Bromley said park rangers have issued 1,600 warnings to people.

Bromley said park board staff have been dealing with concerns about com runners coming too close to people, or impeding access for elderly people or people with disabilities. He asked that runners and joggers to take care to avoid conflicts and to run at different times.

"We are finding compliance but we need to do more,” he said. “I’m making an appeal to runners and joggers to take measures to avoid this conflict, to run at different times. If you’re coming up to a group of pedestrians, please go around them give them a wide berth and we’ll all be able to enjoy the seawall and the parks together.”

On Saturday, Bromley announced that city workers would help patrol Vancouver parks and remind parkgoers of physical distancing. The park board has also closed some parking lots and put up signs.

Despite the new team of workers and warnings issued by park rangers, many still flocked to English Bay and other areas over the weekend. Bromley said park rangers issued 1,600 warnings to people last week.

Howard Normann, director of parks, said the road closures will begin Wednesday morning, with a complete closure expected to be in effect by noon.

There is no plan at this time to make the seawall one direction for walkers. A Park Board official told CTV News, “we are looking at extra measures we could take on the seawall, but with many different points of access it becomes a challenge with signage and awareness. But we will be looking at additional measures throughout the course of the week.”

The Park Board manages some 230 parks, and Normann said there are no plans to close them.

“We don’t want to have to take further action and to keep people safe, but will do so if needed," he said.

The Stanley Park Causeway, part of Hwy 99 that cuts through the park to the Lions Gate Bridge, will remain open. 

The road closures include Stanley Park Drive, and all the access roads and parking lots connected to it.

In addition to the Causeway, Normann said the following roads will remain open: the Georgia St. exit entering the park down to the roundabout, the West End neighbourhood streets, South Lagoon Drive and a small segment of Park Lane, near the Stanley Park Brewery.