If you were looking to start 2022 with a clean slate by plunging into the freezing cold waters of the Burrard Inlet, you'll have to wait until 2023 — for now.
For a second straight year, the Port Moody Penguin Plunge has been cancelled due to ongoing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers of the annual New Year's Day tradition explain, with the new Omicron variant in play, the risk is too great considering the hundreds of residents that convene at Rocky Point Park in a normal setting.
"Protecting the health and safety of our participants, city staff and volunteers is a paramount consideration for this popular event [...]," says David Stuart, president of the Pleasantside Community Association (PCA), in an update to the Tri-City News today (Dec. 17).
"While the decision will be disappointing to many, the PCA is committed to starting the planning with the city in the new year to make the 2023 Penguin Plunge one of the best ever!"
Jan. 1, 2020, was the last full-scale Penguin Plunge to take place at Rocky Point Park when 350 swimmers braved the bone-chilling waters.
Despite balmy conditions, volunteers and city staff had to add bags of ice into the inlet to try to grasp the full Antarctic experience.
As of this publication (Dec. 17), B.C. public health says 302 cases of COVID-19 involving the Omicron variant have been found across the province, including 58 within Fraser Health.
The new variant is spiking daily case counts in the province — health officials found 789 infections in the past day, the most in a 24-hour period since Sept. 29.
It also raises the number of active infections in the province to 4,313 – the most since Nov. 10.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry today announced a new set of restrictions that, starting Monday (Dec. 20), effectively cancels all organized New Year's Eve and Day events and are now in place until Jan. 31, 2022.
In the Tri-Cities, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is reporting a 90.2 per cent double-dose immunization rate against COVID-19 among eligible residents aged 12 years and older
There is also a 92 per cent single-vaccinated average for the same age group.
LOOKING TO GET VACCINATED?
Two pop-up vaccination clinics will be set up over the next three days at Douglas College's Coquitlam campus (1250 Pinetree Way).
Nurses and health care workers are set to welcome and inoculate more eligible residents in the Tri-Cities against COVID-19 on Saturday (Dec. 18) and Monday (Dec. 20), each taking place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Tim Hortons seating area.
Enter campus from Pinetree Way via the entrance marked with a 'Community Centre/Douglas College' sign. Park in the community centre parking lot on your right - it is pay parking. Cross the street to Douglas College and enter the building.
If it's your first dose against COVID-19, you will need your personal health number and a piece of identification.
Children aged five to 11 are also welcome to the clinics, but parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to book an appointment.
If it's your second jab, and it's been at least 28 days, you will need your personal health number, ID and immunization record card.
More information is available on Fraser Health's website.
Eligible residents can also visit the mass immunization clinic at Coquitlam Central Station's Park and Ride overflow lot, where first, second and third doses are being offered.
Third jabs are only recommended at this time for eligible residents 70 years and older, as well as those classified as immuno-compromised.
The station's operating hours are as follows:
- 2900 Barnet Hwy.
- 9:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. = Monday to Friday
- 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. = Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
- Entrance off Mariner Way – east side of Rona. Proceed down the ramp and turn right
- The address will direct you to the main lot on the left but COVID-19 Services are located in the overflow lot to the right
- Do not cut through the Rona parking lot. Please follow the signs
- with a file from Glen Korstrom, Business In Vancouver