Covid-19 Response & Reopening Plan

Taking guidance from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the BC CDC, WorkSafe BC and BC’s Restart Plan, we are slowly and cautiously reopening, with a few changes.

Our plan has 3 parts:
– changes for visitors and program participants
– changes for volunteers and staff
– changes at the Vancouver Shambhala Centre

Since mid-November 2020, with BC’s provincial orders for faith-based organizations all in-person meetings and events are cancelled. When this restriction is lifted (hopefully in March 2021?), we will resume socially-distanced, limited-attendance, in-person meditation sessions, Open Houses, programs and classes using these guidelines.

Changes for Visitors and Program Participants

As our community started in the mid-1970s, our Vancouver founding members are now in their late sixties and seventies. Some in our community have health conditions which make them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. Some of us live with vulnerable people. To keep the Shambhala Centre safe for everyone and their families, we have instituted these rules for this transition period.

If you don’t feel comfortable with any of these rules, please join us virtually using Zoom, which we plan to maintain for most programs and meditation sessions.

Downloadable visitor guidelines.

If you have any symptoms—however slight—such as fever, dry cough, sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste, fatigue or difficulty breathing, do not enter the Vancouver Shambhala Centre. Please stay home until you have been symptom-free for at least 10 days.

Record your contact information for BC Public Health in case someone here today develops Covid-19. We will not use your information for any other purpose, and this sheet will be shredded after 30 days. This is required by BC CDC regulations for organizations such as ours

Wear a face mask as an act of generosity—helping others to feel at ease and stay healthy. While masks don’t filter inbound virus particles, they prevent your droplets from escaping. If you don’t have your own mask, we have a supply near the front entrance.

Wash your hands immediately after you have hung up your coat.

Stay 2 metres away from others all the time, in all areas.

To maintain social distancing 10-12 people max in the Main Meditation Hall. Once we reach capacity, the front door will be closed. Most meditation sessions and programs have online registration so you can ‘reserve’ your spot ahead of time.

Use the dishwasher. Please don’t hand-wash any cups, etc. Clean any door handles or surfaces you have touched, using a Lysol wipe.

Changes for volunteers and program staff

1) Set up Zoom for all programs and meditation sessions when possible.

2) All volunteers and staff must sign in on the signup sheet. (This is a new requirement from the BC CDC).

3) Preparation before each event:

  • Reception area: face masks, hand sanitizer, facial tissues, contact sheets, clean pens, and a container for pens to be cleaned, dishwasher partially open, HVAC set to “fan on”,
  • Main meditation hall: hand sanitizer, facial tissues, one window open, HVAC set to “fan on”, cushions and chairs set to 2+ metres apart
  • Small meditation hall: hand sanitizer, facial tissues, HVAC set to “fan on”, cushions and chairs set to 2+ metres apart
  • Washrooms: ample liquid soap, paper towels, facial tissues in every washroom
  • Get pre-registration list from Geoff or Paul

4) Maximum 18 people in the VSC:  4 people max in small meditation hall; 10-12 people max in main meditation hall. When we reach this number, close the front door and place the “Sorry, we have reached capacity” sign on the outside of the upstairs door and inside the street-level door. Note that some people will have pre-registered on, so include them in your count.

5) No group chanting practices. When there are chants, only the timekeeper speaks them, with others silently or semi-audibly following along.

6) Ventilation settings – “Fan on” in each sector
Our 3 HVAC systems are controlled by their own thermostat: Main Meditation Hall; middle section (small meditation hall, library, Tenno, offices, washrooms, hallway); kitchen/reception area. The second button from the right on each thermostat cycles through 3 settings:
– Fan Auto – the fan only runs when it’s heating or cooling.
– Fan Circ – the fan runs 1/3 of the time
Fan On – the fan runs continually. Use this setting during the event.
Turn back to Fan Auto at the end of the program.

7) Open at least one window in the main meditation hall. This helps exhaust air faster.

8) Collect the contact sheets at the end of the session and store in the Director’s office

9) Enhanced cleaning
At the end (or beginning) of every session, clean all areas of the kitchen that have been touched—kettle, dishwasher handle, drawer pulls, cupboard openings, counters. Use a disinfectant wipe on the door handles of the meditation halls, washrooms, and all other rooms that have been touched. Wipe the toilet handles. Disinfectant wipes can be used on the Square terminal and the iPad, as long as they don’t contain bleach. Clean pens used by people filling out contact form.



Changes at the Vancouver Shambhala Centre

  • All events, where practical, will be both in-person and on Zoom.
  • Limit the number of people inside to 18 people: 10-12 in the main meditation hall, 4 in the small meditation hall, 2-4 in other spaces.
  • Limit  events with talking to a couple of hours.
  • No group chanting practices. Only the timekeeper chants, with others silently or semi-audibly following along.
  • No shared food plates.
  • Informational posters throughout the VSC: maintaining 2 metres distance, how to wash your hands and how to use hand sanitizer, and how to wear a mask.
  • Provide face masks for participants who don’t have one, and have cloth masks available for purchase (made by a local sangha member).
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) upgrade. We already have three  slightly overpowered rooftop HVAC units that change the room air 7.7 times an hour. The “economizer” on each HVAC unit brings in fresh air–about 15-30% of the total air volume.  We recently installed UVC (Ultraviolet-C germicidal light) components in each unit to sanitize the portion of the air that is recirculated.
  • Hand sanitizer in several places.
  • Physically distanced meditation cushions and chairs.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols.


Comments from the community on this plan

We are addressing 3 areas of concern for Covid-19 transmission:
– droplets – physical distancing, requiring face masks
– aerosols – HVAC system on all the time, fresh air from the economizer and open windows, UVC sterilization of the portion of the air that is recirculated
– high-touch areas – handwashing requirement, enhanced cleaning protocols

Zoom is wonderful, but most of us are longing for (socially-distanced) human contact. Let’s figure out how we can do that, safely.