The coronavirus has forced many Vancouver stores, restaurants and other places to close temporarily. Some have remained open and others have since reopened.
As of mid-May, 2020, Stage 2 of British Columbia’s plans to Restart the Economy has begun! That means that restaurants are allowed to once again offer dine-in services, and more and more retailers are reopening. Museums are also permitted to resume operations, if and when they feel they are ready, as are hair salons and various other types of businesses.
The purpose of this article is to highlight local places that are open. It includes a list of venues you can visit and support with your purchases.
NOTE: Information in this article is accurate to the best of our ability and as of the date of publication. These are rapidly changing times, however, and there is a lot to track! Details are also subject to change. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, check official venue websites.
For a list of places and events that have closed or been cancelled, click Impact of the Coronavirus on the Lower Mainland. To learn about places that are still open or have reopened since closing initially, continue reading.
This article includes the following topics:
Open Attractions | What’s Opening Soon and Allowed to Open | Farmers Markets | Lower Mainland Parks | Open Stores | Other Resources for Finding Open Places | Who Deserves Special Praise | Other Information
What’s Open in COVID-19 Vancouver?
The economy has virtually shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, it’s hard to tell what’s still open. We don’t attempt to list every place in the Lower Mainland that’s open – that would be an ever-changing and impossible task! We do list some places, however, and suggest where you can find other lists and sources of information.
Below is a list of places that we know are still open. After our list of some of the many places that have either remained open or have reopened after initially closing, we recommend other websites with more lists of open businesses and organizations. To learn more about places to find what’s open in different parts of the Lower Mainland click Resources for Open Places.
Again, note that circumstances change and that what’s open or closed today might be the opposite by the time you read this article. For the most up-to-date details, see official venue websites.
Not many tourist attractions are currently operating in Vancouver. More and more though will slowly begin to reopen. As of the middle of May, attractions and other places of interest that are open include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Aquabus & False Creek Ferries – the passenger boats that go up and down the waters of False Creek are running again as of May 22nd.
- BC Ferries – the passenger ferry company has been operating throughout the pandemic, but with greatly reduced capacity. Sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo had been completely cancelled for a number of weeks. As of June 3rd, however, sailings resume on that route four times per day.
- Bill Reid Gallery – the Vancouver art gallery featuring the works of Bill Reid and other First Nations artists reopens its doors on June 6th.
- Blarney Stone – the Irish pub in Gastown reopened on May 20th for dine-in service.
- Britannia Mine – the historical site is open as of May 30th for its members and locals who live in Britannia Beach and the surrounding area, and as of June 1st for the general public.
- Clip ‘n Climb – the climbing wall centre in Richmond was closed until May 19th. It is now open again, however, but with a maximum of 10 participants at a time. A number of other Lower Mainland Climbing Centres plan to begin reopening in June.
- Farmers Markets – most Lower Mainland summer farmers markets have started up for the season. Click Open Farmers Markets for a list of some of the ones that are still operating.
- Fort Langley – the National Historic Site resumes operations on June 8th, 2020.
- Granville Island – the public market remains open and an increasing number of retail shops and restaurants in the area have resumed operations.
- Harrison Water Park – as of May 30th the attraction plans to resume its boat and Sea-doo rental services. As of June 27th, they hope to open the water park to the public too.
- Lonsdale Quay Public Market – most food retailers at the world-famous market have either remained open or, since closing temporarily, have reopened. The retail level of the venue has also reopened as of May 20th. Over time more and more shops are start to welcome customers once again.
- Lower Mainland Parks – most city parks have either reopened or will soon be reopening their facilities (including golf courses and tennis courts, but not playgrounds). Most (but not all) provincial parks have also reopened for day-use as of May 14th. Most will hopefully reopen their campgrounds for overnight stays in June. For a list of open parks click Lower Mainland Parks.
- Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre – the Burnaby venue reopens as of June 1st, 2020.
- Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy – the comedy club in New Westminster is open as of May 21st (but with various safety measures in place including operating at a greatly reduced maximum capacity).
- Sea to Sky Gondola – the Squamish-based attraction is open as of May 22nd, although initially only for pass holders and their guests. Members of the general public will be no doubt be allowed up the mountain as well before too long.
- Vancouver Mysteries – the company with crime-solving games in the streets of downtown Vancouver has resumed operations.
- VanDusen Garden – the City of Vancouver’s botanical garden has resumed operations (although with just a limited number of people allowed in at any one time).
As of the middle of May, 2020, as part of the province’s Phase 2 of restarting the economy, public libraries, museums and art galleries are finally permitted to reopen, as are recreation and sporting facilities. That being said, reopenings are only if adequate safety measures are in place. Also, just because venues are allowed to reopen doesn’t mean they will right away. Many places still remain closed.
As more tourist attractions and places of interest reopen we’ll continue to add to the above list. In the meantime, though, check out the lists of open farmers markets and parks below, and see official websites of venues for exact details. Further below you’ll also find details about open retailers and other information and resources.
What’s Opening Soon and Allowed to Open?
As time passes, more and more businesses and places of interest will reopen. Restaurants, museums, hair salons, libraries and rec centres, for example, are starting to reopen as of mid-May. See below for details about the government’s plans.
Phase 2 of BC’s Reopening Plans
On May 6th, 2020, the Premier of BC outlined the government’s plans to restart the province’s economy.
As of mid-May, businesses allowed to reopen include those listed below (as well as a few others). The plan though is assuming the current health situation continues to improve and that venues take appropriate measures to protect their staffs and customers.
The following businesses and places are allowed to reopen as of the middle of May, although not all necessarily will.
- Chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists, physiotherapists and speech therapists.
- Retail stores.
- Hair stylists, barbers, and other personal care service providers.
- Restaurants, coffee shops and pubs (but not bars or night clubs).
- Art galleries, libraries and museums.
- Recreation and sports facilities (but not for major events)
- Beaches, parks and other outdoor spaces.
The above is part of the province’s Phase 2 plan. If health conditions continue to stabilize or improve, Phase 3 will happen between June and September.
Phase 3 and Beyond of BC’s Reopening Plans
As part of Phase 3, beginning in June 2020, hotels that aren’t currently still operating will likely be allowed to reopen, and parks will likely resume overnight camping operations. By July cinemas will hopefully open back up again, and by September children will be allowed back to school, at least to some degree.
As of the beginning of May, the timing of Phase 4, which includes the resumption of conventions, concerts and international tourism, is yet to be determined. The reopening of night clubs and casinos won’t likely be for a while even after that.
To learn more about the plans to reopen the provincial and Vancouver economies, click BC’s Restart Plan.
Farmers Markets Are Open!
Many (but not all) farmers markets in the Lower Mainland are open as of the beginning of May. They have lots of special procedures in place to keep people safe, and many of the markets are much smaller than usual, with fewer vendors, but they are open. Some markets even offer online pick-up and delivery services.
Places you can shop at, and where you can find local farmers to support, include those listed below. (Note: Exact times and other details are subject to change.)
- Abbotsford Farm and Country Market – on Saturday mornings in Abbotsford (as of its first day of the season on May 16th).
- Ambleside Artisan Farmers Market – on Sundays from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver.
- Burnaby Artisan Farmers Market – on Saturdays from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm outside Burnaby City Hall. (It had closed briefly at the beginning of the health crisis, but then soon after reopened.)
- Coquitlam Farmers Market – at 624 Poirier Street in Coquitlam on Sundays between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.
- Fort Langley Village Farmers Market – on Saturdays from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm on Glover Road in Fort Langley. It starts for the season (as originally planned) on May 2nd.
- Lonsdale Quay Farmers Market – a small number of vendors outside the Lonsdale Quay Public Market in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale District on Saturdays from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm (as of May 9th).
- Kitsilano Farmers Market – on Sundays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm at the Kitsilano Community Centre.
- New West Farmers Market – between 3:00 and 7:00 pm at New Westminster’s Tipperary Park on Royal Avenue (not far from City Hall).
- Riley Park Farmers Market – on Saturdays at Riley Park near Nat Bailey Stadium from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- Squamish Farmers Market – in downtown Squamish between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm (as of May 9th, so about a month later than originally planned.)
- Trout Lake Farmers Market – at the north end of John Hendry Park from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.
- White Rock Farmers Market – from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm at 15154 Russell Avenue in White Rock.
In addition to the above, the West End Farmers Market starts up on Saturdays beginning on May 30th. Also, the Haney Farmers Market in Maple Ridge is participating in a temporary Food Hub project and hopes to open itself sometime later in the summer. For a list of other places you can buy fresh produce and support local businesses, click Vancouver Farmers Markets.
Also in addition to the above, lots of small locally-owned grocery stores are open. They are important places to support and shop at too.
Lower Mainland Parks
In addition to food, during a pandemic people also need to maintain their mental health. One way of accomplishing that is through exercise and being outdoors. Parks are great places to do that, especially ones close to home.
Provincial parks run by BC Parks had all been closed. As of May 14th, however, about half of the ones within two hours’ drive of Vancouver have reopened, at least for day-use. Most Lower Mainland municipal parks are open, although with things like swimming pools and children’s playgrounds still closed. In most (but not all) cases, tennis courts, skateboard parks, golf courses and basketball courts have reopened as of the middle of May. A few major parks within Metro Vancouver are still open, but with no access to parking for vehicles (e.g., Stanley Park).
A number of major parks that are still open include those outlined below. Most smaller community parks throughout the Lower Mainland also remain open.
(Note: This list is accurate to the best of our ability at the time of writing of this article. The status of individual venues may change at any time.)
- Alice Lake Provincial Park – the park near Squamish re-opened for day-use as of May 14th. Camping facilities are open again beginning in June.
- Ambleside Park in West Vancouver – the entire waterfront route from the Capilano River to Dundarave is open as usual (although with restrictions in some areas for cyclists). Just be sure to stay as far away from other people along the seawall as you can, or just stick to the wide open areas.
- Belcarra Regional Park – the park just north of Port Moody remains open. To help people maintain physical distancing, the loop around Sasamat Lake has been designated one-way until further notice.
- Bear Creek Park in Surrey – the miniature train, miniature golf, swimming pool and playgrounds have been closed, but the park is still available for exploring.
- Boundary Bay Regional Park – the children’s playground is closed, but the beach and trails at the park in Tsawwassen are open.
- Bridal Veil Falls – the provincial park up past Chilliwack re-opened for day-use as of the middle of May.
- Burnaby Lake – the boat launch has been closed, but the walking trails around the lake are open.
- Burnaby Mountain – the trails and open areas are open. Horizons Restaurant at the top, however, has closed permanently (but did so at the end of February, 2020, so before the pandemic started affecting most businesses).
- Capilano River Regional Park – the area around North Vancouver’s Cleveland Dam is open to the public, as are the trails from there down to Ambleside in West Vancouver. The Capilano River Hatchery, however, has been closed temporarily.
- Central Park in Burnaby – the forested trails are open, as is the pitch and putt golf course. Swangard Stadium, however, has been closed.
- Cultus Lake Provincial Park – the park in the Fraser Valley opened for day-use. Its campgrounds are also open again beginning on June 1st.
- Deer Lake in Burnaby – although the path and boardwalks around the lake are narrow, everyone has to walk in the same direction – clockwise – which is a great way to help people maintain appropriate physical distancing.
- Dundarave in West Vancouver – the beach, pier and seawall are all open to the public. The swings and other children’s play structures, however, remain closed until further notice.
- Golden Ears – the provincial park north of Maple Ridge re-opened for day-use on May 14th. The beach at Alouette Lake is also open. Campground facilities, however, remained closed for an additional couple of weeks. First day of the 2020 camping season there is June 1st.
- Elgin Heritage Park – the park in Surrey has remained open throughout the pandemic (although not Stewart Farm which is the historic site at the park which has been closed for a number of weeks).
- Inter River Park in North Vancouver – the sports fields have been closed, but all the walking and hiking trails remain popular with both people and dogs.
- John Hendry Park in Vancouver – Trout Lake is still open for people to walk around. The Trout Lake Farmers Market is also now open for the season on Saturdays.
- Kitsilano in Vancouver – the ocean-front park and beach remain open, although the children’s play structures and the outdoor swimming pool remain closed. As of the Victoria Day Long Weekend, parking facilities at the beach also remain closed (so you’ll have to walk to get there, take public transit or get dropped off).
- Lighthouse Park – the parking lot at this West Vancouver park was closed for a number of weeks, which greatly limited accessibility and the number of people visiting. The parking lot, however, has since reopened.
- Mundy Park in Coquitlam – the trails at the park remain open. Children’s playground facilities, however, are not.
- Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver – the park is beautiful this time of year. Parking in the area is restricted, and the pitch and putt golf is closed, but the park itself is still open. Tennis court facilities have also reopened.
- Pacific Spirit Regional Park – the walking trails on the UBC Endowment Lands are still a great place to experience nature and get exercise.
- Rice Lake in North Vancouver – the parking lot at the nearby Seymour Demonstration Forest is still closed temporarily, as of mid-May, but the trails around the lake remain open.
- Rocky Point Park in Port Moody – the park is open, as are its walking and cycling trails. The outdoor pool and children’s playground, however, remain closed. Parking lots were also still closed as of mid-May).
- Rolley Lake – the provincial park north of Mission has reopened to the public for day-use. Campgrounds there back in operation as of June 1st.
- Sasquatch Provincial Park – the park near Harrison Hot Springs reopened for day-use on May 14th. Camping facilities reopen on June 1st.
- Shannon Falls – the provincial park near Squamish is open as of June 1st, 2020, after being closed for a few weeks.
- Spanish Banks – the beach near UBC remains open to the public.
- Stanley Park in Vancouver – the same as Queen Elizabeth Park, many of the facilities are closed and parking is restricted (or, in this case, cars are completely banned). The park, its trails, seawall and beaches, however, remain open. Cyclists are allowed to ride on the roads, but not along the seawall (which is currently reserved for pedestrian traffic only).
- Stawamus Chief Provincial Park – the popular hiking spot in Squamish was closed but has now since reopened.
In addition to the above, lots of other parks remain open. Not all though, and in some regions, like in Whistler and Harrison Hot Springs, non-locals are encouraged to stay away.
Lower Mainland Stores That Are Still Open
Thousands of stores and restaurants are still open, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, although operating under modified conditions. These include grocery stores and pharmacies, restaurants offering take-out and delivery services, and banks and credit unions. Far from all of these are still open for business, but many are. As of May 19th, restaurants are allowed to start offering dine-in services.
Hair salons, barber shops, massage therapy and physio clinics, and other similar types of places have been closed, but as of the middle of May are allowed to begin to reopen (provided that certain safety measures are in place). Also as of mid-May, retail stores, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs (but not bars) are also allowed to reopen, as are public libraries, museums and art galleries.
Most Metro Vancouver shopping malls remained open throughout the pandemic including the following:
- Aberdeen Centre – the Richmond mall has remained open. Similar to other places, initially only essential-service retailers like the supermarket, drugstore, post office and a few food venues remained open. Now though, an increasing number of stores have resumed operations.
- Lansdowne Mall – as of May 19th, according to its website, Richmond’s second largest shopping centre has about four dozen stores that are open. More will no doubt be resuming operations soon too.
- Lonsdale Quay – the public market remained open throughout the spring as did a number of its food-related vendors. Other stores started opening after the May Long Weekend too.
- Metropolis at Metrotown – the Burnaby mall has remained open. As of mid-May, an increasing number of its stores are reopening.
- Pacific Centre – the downtown Vancouver mall also remained open, although many of its stores closed initially. Similar to other places, over time more and more retailers have been opening back up.
- Park Royal Shopping Centre – the West Vancouver shopping mall remains open. As of May 19th, 2020, over 40 of its tenant stores are open (and more will soon be too).
For a video of businesses at Lonsdale Quay (and the Lower Lonsdale District of North Vancouver) that remained open as of April 2020, see below.
Several major department stores closed initially. Most though are now reopening.
The Hudson’s Bay Company, the iconic Canadian department store, closed its Lower Mainland locations initially, but has been reopening them since after the Victoria Day Long Weekend in mid-May. Nordstrom at the Pacific Centre closed, as did all that chains other Canadian and US locations. The Vancouver location was offering curbside pickup for a while and then, as of late May, reopened for in-store shopping too.
We’d love to list all retailers that have remained open or have reopened, especially smaller and locally-owned ones. That would be impossible though. Instead, below, we list places where you can find lists of what’s open in specific parts of the Lower Mainland.
NOTE: The contents of this article are accurate to the best of our knowledge and as of the writing of this article. Things change, however, so see official venue websites for exact details.
Other Resources for Finding Open Places
At Vancouver’s Best Places we’d love to have a comprehensive list of shops, restaurants and other businesses that remain open during the current COVID-19 health crisis, including small single location places. That would be a big job, and far beyond what a small organization like ours could handle. Instead, we have compiled a list of other organizations and online resources that have their own lists of open places.
Check out the following for other lists of places that are currently open:
- The Georgia Straight – this community newspaper compiled a list of businesses that were still open as of the end of April. Places in its list included Habitat for Humanity (online), Eclipse Awards (at 614 Alexander Street in Vancouver) and a couple dozen other places.
- Granville Island – the website for the popular tourist and shopping destination has a list of what’s open in the area.
- Shipyards District in North Vancouver – the Lower Lonsdale BIA has a list of businesses that are open in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood.
- Invest NewWest – the City of New Westminster compiled a list of places where people can still buy things from in their community.
- VisitRichmondBC – Tourism Richmond has a list of places in Richmond that remain open on its website.
What Businesses, Organizations and People Deserve Extra Praise?
During these challenging times, a number of businesses, in our opinion, have stood out for the extra things they have done to help their customers. We list some of these below.
We’d love to list every small locally-owned and even the tiniest of socially-responsible businesses. That wouldn’t, however, be practical. Kudos to the following larger places though for some of their initiatives:
- BC Hydro – the power company has been offering to waive up to three months’ worth of utility bills for people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
- ICBC – the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia isn’t normally the most-loved company in the province. It’s so nice though that they are waiving the usual $30 fee for insurance cancellations and the $18 plate fees when reinstating cancelled policies. They are also allowing companies to suspend insurance on fleet vehicles not being used. Every little bit counts!
- London Drugs – this large Vancouver-based pharmacy was the first to offer to help Girl Guides sell their fundraising cookies in stores (with 100% of proceeds going to the non-profit organization). The company also started to reserve some store shelves for products that small local businesses could no longer sell on their own.
- Vancity Credit Union – whereas several banks cut credit card interest rates in half, this local credit union reduced credit card interest rates to zero for people impacted by the pandemic. That’s awesome! They also eliminated e-transfer and ATM fees temporarily. Like other financial institutions, they have also been letting people defer loan and mortgage payments. (Note: Not all Vancity branches have reopened as of the middle of May. Some remain closed, or open by appointment only.)
Other categories of businesses we’d like to give shout outs to include the following:
- Restaurants and other businesses that are offering discounts to workers on the frontline of the battle with COVID-19.
- Businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies that are reserving certain shopping times of the day for the elderly and other people at risk.
- Businesses like dental clinics that donated their supplies of masks, gloves and other health-related personal protective supplies to area hospitals.
- Local distilleries that have been switching from brewing booze to making hand sanitizer (and in some cases donating it to worthwhile causes).
- Telecom companies (yes, even them) that have been waiving overage charges, long distance fees and roaming premiums.
- Hotels that have been offering their rooms to frontline healthcare workers who need a place to sleep for just a few hours or are unable to sleep at home for fear of putting their families at risk.
Who else deserves extra praise? More than anyone, all the frontline health care workers who work hard to help sick people recover while putting themselves at risk! Their families too have been making huge sacrifices in the process.
Who else deserves our thanks and praise? Store clerks who have to come into close contact with hundreds of people on a daily basis, city workers who collect our garbage, and pharmacists, food delivery people and food processing workers. There are also both staff and volunteers at charitable organizations helping those in need, and everyone else who’s working to keep us fed, safe and sane! Oh, and Dr. Bonnie Henry of course too!
For information about COVID-19 and what’s happening in BC, checking out the following websites:
- BC Centre for Disease Control
- Government of Canada
- Vancouver Coastal Health
For a list of Lower Mainland places that closed due to the pandemic, see our article about Vancouver Closures and Cancellations.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver’s May, June, July and August Calendars of Events
- Best Places for Shopping
- Lower Mainland Parks & Nature
- Vancouver on a Budget