Last week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a slew of new measures aimed at curbing the upward trend in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in BC.
At its most rudimentary level, the new order looks to restrict social gatherings, get people to wear masks indoors, limit activities where the virus has been known to spread easily, and limit non-essential travel.
But as some types of businesses and activities are allowed to continue operating, many people across BC have questions about how the order impacts their lives for at least the next two weeks.
In this article, we look to the official guidelines and public health experts in answering some pressing questions sent in by our valued readers.
Can I go and take care of my elderly relative?
The answer to this question was clarified by Dr. Bonnie Henry on Monday.
The short answer is: yes, caring for elderly relatives is allowed if there are concerns.
The new orders do also allow grandparents to take care of their grandchildren, and allow parents to carpool children to and from school.
Can a group of say 10 to 14 people, who are not all in the same bubble, meet outside for a picnic or other type of gathering if they socially distance and wear masks?
The short answer is no.
Under the new orders lasting effecting until at least December 7, there are to be no gatherings of any kind, indoors or outdoors, with people outside your immediate household or, if you live alone, people in your small social circle with a maximum of two people whom you consider your household.
People are, however, encouraged to go for walks with people in their household.
Are music and dance classes still allowed?
Orders updated as of November 24 order dance classes to shut down until new provincial guidelines are made available to ensure group indoor physical fitness activities can continue safely.
While there are no specific instructions for music lessons in particular, these activities would likely fall under the ‘social gatherings and events’ category listed in the new restrictions.
This section specifies that for at least two weeks, no galas, no musical performances, and no theatre performances can take place.
As music classes involve gathering together, whether indoor or outdoor, with people outside of your household or core bubble, it follows that those classes must pause for the time being.
Does the mask mandate apply to gyms?
So far, no.
Three types of indoor physical fitness activities have been cancelled altogether, for the foreseeable future: high-intensity interval training, hot yoga classes, and group indoor spin classes.
For all other types of indoor physical activities, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is working on coming up with new and updated safety guidelines, and public health will close down any studios where transmission events are detected.
In the meantime, gyms must follow their own existing safety guidelines.
Some fitness facilities, like GoodLife Fitness, have proactively implemented rules that require masks to be worn at all times, after the new restrictions were announced last week.
Until new guidelines are announced, check with your gym to see whether or not they require masks at all times.
What can I do if a business is not complying with protocols?
Most businesses across BC are allowed to remain open as long as they follow their own COVID-19 safety protocols, created in accordance with WorkSafeBC guidelines.
These protocols must then be displayed at the storefront or website or in an otherwise publicly viewable space.
Customers and staff at businesses that are not complying with these protocols can make a complaint to WorkSafeBC via phone, fax, or mail.
Relevant contact information is located on their website.
People aren’t allowed to go over to someone’s house and have a social gathering, but can’t they just have their social gathering at a restaurant?
Restaurants that follow COVID-19 workplace guidelines can continue to operate and those guidelines allow up to six customers to sit and dine in together.
Under the new regulations, British Columbians can only visit restaurants with people in their immediate household or core bubble.
There is no way for restaurants to verify whether people dining together are indeed members of the same household.
However Dr. Bonnie Henry has expressed several times that she believes having the rules and guidance in place will be enough for people in BC to comply, as they have with advice to maintain six feet of distance between those who do not belong in the same bubble.
How about sports that have leagues that go across health boundaries? Can players travel?
Travelling across health regions for the purposes of sports tournaments is currently suspended until at least December 7.
In a clarification on Monday, Henry stated that children or players who live in different communities — like Burnaby and Vancouver — but play on the same team can still continue to play together.
However entire sports teams cannot travel to another jurisdiction to compete with other teams.
Sports activities can continue in accordance with ViaSport guidelines, but for the next two weeks, there are to be no spectators at any sporting event, whether indoors or outdoors.
Public Health officials are currently working with ViaSport to come up with further advanced guidance.
Can holiday events continue if they’re outdoors or drive-thru events?
This question was answered on Monday as well and sadly, it’s a no.
In accordance with the new guidelines, all events are cancelled until at least December 7.
That includes drive-thru light shows and outdoor events. Henry specifically mentioned Vancouver Island favourite Butchart Gardens’ winter light display.
In Victoria, this drive-thru light show event is slated to begin on December 7 and run until at least December 31, but it remains to be seen whether the show will be allowed to go on, as the province reevaluates guidelines based on the current situation in two weeks.
Still have questions?
Check out our favourite infographic outlining the province-wide restrictions in place, created by North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma.