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B.C. health officials put Okanagan party boats on notice

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a serious damper on summertime fun
COVID-19 has put a serious damper on summer fun, including Okanagan boating. Photo: Facebook

By Rob Gibson

One of the great things about living in or visiting the Okanagan is lake life.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a serious damper on summertime fun, including Kelowna Cruises and "Where It's At" boat party cruises.

Cody Peters, a captain with Kelowna Cruises tells Castanet he doesn't believe recent orders by provincial health officials on Monday impact them.

Castanet reported Monday that it is now the responsibility of owners of vacation rentals, hotel operators and houseboat rental businesses to ensure their property isn’t used to facilitate gatherings and parties in B.C.

“You cannot have a large group of people over to party in your hotel room or on your boat during this period of our COVID summer,” said Dr. Henry on Monday.

The move was made as the province tries to get a handle on rising COVID-19 cases primarily due to a series of private parties over the Canada Day long weekend.

Peters says, "we're not like a houseboat rental. We're a passenger-carrying vessel certified by Transport Canada, similar to what BC Ferries would fall under."

That means Kelowna Cruises will continue with daily sailings at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

But Peters says they have cancelled a 'Bush Party Cruise' scheduled for this week, although their Facebook page says, as of Tuesday, that the party has been postponed until August 7 – "All tickets have been moved over to that date automatically. If you cannot make this date please call for a full refund. Face masks are now mandatory while on the boat for that cruise."

Peters says business has slowed down for them considerably since the Kelowna cluster was announced.

"Typically we can get 86 people on our cruises, that's now down to 50 and things have really slowed down after the outbreak that happened in town, things have slowed down for everybody quite a bit."

Where It's At Entertainment also had boat parties promoted on their Facebook page for July 31, August 1/2 in Kelowna, Penticton and Vancouver.

Where It's At Entertainment owner Chelsie Grobins tells Castanet they have cancelled the parties and everyone will get a refund. Grobins says they typically rent the houseboat used for the parties from a company in Kelowna.

"It's pretty much put everything on hold at the moment. We have to wait and see how things progress over the next couple of months," Grobins says. "We've had to cancel 137 events this year for 2020."

Read more from Castanet