Delta bylaw inspectors are out enforcing the provincial health officer’s order to close certain types of businesses.
On Saturday, March 21, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry added personal service establishments — including salons, spas, massage parlours and tattoo parlours — to the list of businesses ordered to close in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
On Friday, Henry ordered that all restaurants provincewide would have to close their doors to dine-in guests and instead operate only through takeout or delivery services. Earlier this week, she banned bars and nightclubs from operating until further notice, as well as put a ban on large gatherings of more than 50 people.
On Saturday, the city announced that bylaw inspectors, acting under Delta’s local state of emergency, would be shutting down all local businesses found to be operating outside of Henry’s directives.
The city said inspectors will be “extremely proactive” in cases where businesses are unable to meet current social distancing requirements, including a visit Saturday to all local golf courses.
“We recognize the hardship this situation is having on local businesses and are actively advocating for measures to ease the financial burden on local businesses and commercial property owners during these difficult times. However, we must act on the direction of Dr. Henry to keep our community safe,” Mayor George Harvie said in a press release.
Delta declared a local state of emergency on Thursday, March 19, a move that gave Harvie additional powers to enforce the provincial health officer’s orders regarding business closures, limiting public gatherings and practicing social distancing.
That same day, Delta bylaw inspectors suspended the business licence of Bikram Yoga Delta on Scott Road after the owner refused to voluntarily cancel classes in light of the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.
Acting under the local state of emergency, Mayor Harvie on Friday ordered all playgrounds, skate parks and bike parks closed, including those on school grounds and in Metro Vancouver-operated parks within the municipality.
The mayor also mandated stores set aside time every day for seniors and others who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 to shop separate from from the general public, and take steps to discourage overbuying of all goods — particularly meat, dairy, bread and medication — and limit the quantity of “key items” that a single person may purchase in one day “so that those who cannot afford to buy in bulk have the opportunity to purchase these items.”
In addition to those made by the provincial health officer, city bylaw inspectors are also enforcing the mayor’s orders.
On Friday afternoon, at a special meeting of council, mayor and council unanimously gave three readings to a new bylaw that will enable the City of Delta to defer the late payment penalty deadline for 2020 flat rate utility bills until June 1, 2020.
The new bylaw aims to provide some financial relief to residents who may be feeling the pinch as more and more people self-isolate and businesses close or reduce hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another special meeting of Delta council will be held Monday, March 23 at 1 p.m. to consider final adoption of the bylaw.
Earlier this week, the city closed all recreation centres, community centres, ice arenas, swimming pools, art centres, senior centres and the Delta Archives, and also had suspended seniors bus services.
The city also cancelled all spring break programs and, following the direction of the Provincial Health Officer and BC Centre for Disease Control, cancelled all non-essential events, including the Delta Triathlon, which scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 2 after a five-year hiatus, the city’s 2020 Spring Clean-Up and free compost week.
Full refunds will be provided to anyone who had registered for city-organized activities and programs or who wished to extend their fitness pass during the closure period.
City hall was closed to the public late Wednesday morning. Anyone needing to pay utility fees or taxes is asked to do so online wherever possible. Failing that, the city has set up a drop box at city hall where people can pay by cheque.
All other city services remain operational via the city’s website, delta.ca.
The city will use the closures to deep clean facilities and perform annual maintenance, as well as provide assistance to other departments requiring additional resources.
For more information about the city’s response to COVID-19 and its impact to city programs, services and events — plus precautions to take to lessen the chance of contracting the virus as well as links to the Fraser Health, Health Canada, HealthLink BC and BC Centre for Disease Control websites — visit delta.ca/coronavirus.
Also on Wednesday, the Delta Police Department closed all of its district community police offices. The move came a day after the department suspended fingerprinting services at both its headquarters in Ladner and at the North Delta Public Safety Building.
All Fraser Valley Regional libraries, including North Delta’s George Mackie Library, are closed indefinitely to the public and all library programs are cancelled.
On Wednesday, FVRL extended the closure to include all book drops. Customers are asked to keep their checked out materials, and all fines will be suspended during the closure.
All of the library’s digital content — including eBooks, audiobooks, news and magazines, music and video streaming, eLearning, “For Kids” and databases — is available online 24-7 at fvrl.bc.ca.
— with files from Ashley Wadhwani