Some disappointing news for families hoping to send their kids to overnight camps this summer:

During her daily briefing on Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a new Provincial Health order banning overnight summer camps for children and youth this year.

She cited risks of transmission at overnight camps where physical distancing is difficult as rationale for issuing this order.

“I know that that’s a disappointment for many groups who are used to having that important part of their summer,” said Dr. Henry.

“But I would encourage everybody to focus on arranging day camps where staying outside in smaller groups is far easier to do and will be safe.”

In issuing the ban, she reiterated that these precautionary measures are temporary, not forever, and called for patience and kindness, as always.

More news for children and youth

Two weeks after B.C. launched Phase 2 of the COVID-19 restart plan, the province is poised to start allowing voluntary, partial in-class instruction in schools starting June 1.

According to Dr. Henry, just one per cent of all coronavirus cases in the province have been detected in people under the age of 19, which is an encouraging sign that the risk of transmission at schools will be low.

See also: K-12 students can start returning to classrooms in B.C. on June 1 on voluntary basis

Public health officials in B.C. also purposely designed their plan to make sure there would be a period of two weeks between the time they eased economic and social restrictions and the time kids were allowed to return to classrooms.

During her briefing, Dr. Henry stated that if there had been a surge of new cases during those two weeks, the June 1 school reopening date would have been pushed back.

As cases have remained low, however, the original plan will move forward. Dr. Henry does expect there to be some new cases as a result of schools reopening, but adds that authorities are well equipped to monitor and manage any outbreaks at these institutions.

Urging caution

This week, the province has seen low numbers of new daily cases, and no additional deaths for three days.

However despite these encouraging statistics, public health officials warn that COVID-19 is still alive among the elderly, and community transmission is still occurring.

See also: “Fewer faces, bigger spaces”: How to safely expand your social circle in B.C. next week

As a result, B.C. residents are urged to continue keeping their social circles small, maintain physical distancing when out in public, wear a non-medical mask in situations where maintaining distances is difficult, and keep up rigorous personal hygiene measures.

Phase 2 restrictions permit people to expand their social bubbles outside their own households up to two to six people, given that nobody at home is at high risk of contracting a serious case of the virus.

These rules are particularly crucial as people return to schools and workplaces.

“If your child is going to school, if you’re going back to work, you want to limit the other social connections you have,” said Dr. Henry on Saturday.

“If you’re not going back to school or work, then you might want to expand to another family or household or group. But right now we need to hold those limits small.”

For now, the limit of six people outside the household for social interactions is not expected to change.