BC residents are facing new restrictions for the holidays.
The province announced an initial set of restrictions on Friday, December 17 with additional measures outlined on Tuesday, December 21. The latest restrictions come into effect Wednesday and will be in place until January 18, 2022. They include:
- The closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, and fitness centres;
- Reducing seated capacity limits at all venues and events to 50%, no matter what size;
- Postponing scheduled non-urgent surgeries, starting from January 4, 2022;
- Limiting table sizes at pubs, restaurants, and cafes to maximum six people; and,
- Banning organized indoor social gatherings and events of any size.
Residents are also advised against non-essential travel within the province and outside of Canada, and all travel if not fully vaccinated.
The first set of health orders announced on Friday are in effect until January 31, 2022, and include:
- Limits on personal indoor gatherings: one household and up to 10 guests, or maximum two households if everyone 12 and over is fully vaccinated. Non-vaccinated relatives can’t gather outside their households;
- Limits on public gatherings: venues and events with over 1000 attendees are reduced to 50% capacity;
- Reinforcing masking and capacity limits and requiring the BC Vaccine card at all organized events;
- Enforcing strict capacity and mask rules at places of worship and retail stores: stores will also need COVID-19 safety plans in place;
- A return to some restrictions at places serving food and alcohol: wearing masks when not seated, not mingling between tables; and
- The suspension of sports tournaments and cancellation of New Year’s Eve gatherings unless they’re seated-only.
The updated restrictions are an alteration to some of the previous measures.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news release on Friday, December 17th, “While vaccination remains the best defence against COVID-19, we are now dealing with the new threat of a more transmissible variant … It is imperative people follow the new orders in how they celebrate this season.”
So what does that mean? Well, don’t expect to go dancing in a nightclub or bar when ringing in the New Year. Postpone your holiday getaway to Florida for now. Most importantly, make sure your holiday gatherings are strictly limited and everyone is vaccinated.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix said, “Slowing the spread and keeping each other safe is a cause in which we are all connected. It’s that togetherness that will get all of us through the next days and weeks.”
Students and staff at VIU are encouraged to be cautious and follow public health guidelines. If they’re not fully vaccinated or haven’t gotten their booster shots, they should book an appointment as soon as possible.