After B.C. reported three straight days of more than 100 new COVID-19 cases, the provincial health officer has issued new orders to curb transmission rates at venues that have been ground zero for outbreaks over the past few weeks.
At a live briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that all night clubs and banquet halls are ordered closed until further notice, effective immediately.
Last call for alcohol sales at bars, pubs, and restaurants in B.C. will be capped at 10 p.m. and the aforementioned venues must close entirely by 11 p.m. unless they provide full meal service beyond that time.
Liquor service can only resume at 11 a.m. the next day.
In addition, music and background noise at these venues must be no louder than regular speaking volume, to prevent patrons and staff from having to talk loudly in public spaces.
Details surrounding the orders are expected to be released within the next day or two, but all these new rules take effect immediately with an unknown amount of ‘grace period’ for businesses to adapt.
These measures are a result of observations that show that impaired people are unable to stick to health and safety regulations, and studies that examine how talking loudly can increase the risks of COVID-19 transmission.
“It became apparent that there were some venues that were just high risk environments for staff and patrons and that we were not able — and people who were working in these places were not able — to effectively use the measures that we had put in place.”
“I’m confident that these measures will be helpful for us … and that the rest of us will work together to make sure that we can get through this fall and the rest of this pandemic together.”
Shutting down certain venues and limiting alcohol service is a modification of the previous public health order announced at the end of July that banned liquor self-service and restricted seated groups to six people at bars and restaurants.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix added that he will be laying out more specific plans with Henry, and Premier Horgan for the upcoming months of the pandemic in B.C. on Wednesday, September 9.