People watch a youth soccer match, in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday, November 7, 2020. B.C. public health orders banning social gatherings are in effect Nov. 7-23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

People watch a youth soccer match, in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday, November 7, 2020. B.C. public health orders banning social gatherings are in effect Nov. 7-23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. fields tough COVID-19 questions on urban restrictions

Ban on private social gatherings as business, school carry on

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is walking a fine line to keep schools and businesses functioning as the province prepares for more big COVID-19 infection numbers from the weekend.

B.C. hit a daily high on Friday, Nov. 13 with 617 new coronavirus cases reported, as the second week of restrictions on the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions began. Orders in effect from Nov. 7 to 23 put a stop to travel for sports and leisure to and from the Lower Mainland, and indoor group fitness and social gatherings at private homes within the two health regions that have seen most of the increased virus spread.

Guidance posted over the weekend clarifies that people living alone can “continue to see one or two members of their pandemic bubble at each other’s homes,” where the pandemic bubble is your household.

Much of the guidance defines what is or isn’t a social gathering. There is no order restricting travel in or out of the Lower Mainland, and work, medical appointments and other essential business carries on during the two weeks of the order. COVID-19 test results will determine if the restrictions are extended past Nov. 23.

Religious services continue with safety plans for a limit of 50 people, and work or family-related travel and car-pooling to school or work is allowed. The guidance answers common questions, such as why Henry has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces.

“Dr. Henry expects everyone who can to use masks, the same way she expects everyone to maintain a safe distance from others, clean their hands and cough into their sleeves,” the guidance documents say.

RELATED: Canada approaches 300,000 COVID-19 cases

RELATED: Second COVID-19 vaccine shows early success

And then there are schools, with classrooms arranged in cohorts to minimize their number of contacts. School transmission is being monitored and the risk has been considered low compared to higher-risk activities.

Q: “Why is it safe for a teacher to be in a classroom of 26 students, but not see a few close friends?”

A: “This order is based on evidence that social gatherings, particularly in household settings but also in other social situations such as gatherings before or after sports events or indoor group physical activities are causing significant COVID-19 transmission.

“People who violate this order bring exposure risks into their home, risks that they latter take with them to their workplaces. We all need to reduce our social interactions so we can keep our schools and workplaces open.”

Restaurants, pubs and movie theatres continue to operate as before. Like classrooms, these are considered controlled settings, where seating is spaced and moving from one seat group to another is not permitted, unlike wedding and funeral receptions where large groups have not been effectively regulated.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A power outage Thursday night left nearly 3,000 homes in Clinton and the 70 Mile areas in the dark. (Katie McCullough photo).
Updated: Clinton, 70 Mile left in the dark after vehicle crashes into transmission pole

BC Hydro still working to restore power to 330 homes in 70 Mile House

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Community consultation is now open regarding disposal of the former Ashcroft Elementary property, which since 2015 has operated as the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Vicci Weller)
Feedback now sought regarding disposal of Ashcroft Elementary

Residents of the region can have their say about the future of the former AES property

(from l) Ashcroft IDA store manager Irene Dumont; Christmas Hamper organizer Esther Lang; IDA staff Trish Lambert, Cheryl Scanlon, Tracey Nontell, Rod Schafer, Alicia Lake, Trina Michaud (behind Alicia), and Silvia Caston. IDA matched customer donations to the 2020 Christmas Hamper program. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
COVID couldn’t put a crimp in this year’s Christmas hamper program

171 hampers were distributed to families in Clinton, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, Spences Bridge

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read