(File photo)

B.C.’s top doc has put her foot down on potentially large or risky New Year’s parties with a new COVID-19 health order.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Wednesday that liquor sales provincewide must cease at 8 p.m. on December 31st.

The ban on alcohol transactions will be lifted at 9 a.m. the following day, on January 1st.

Bars will also be forced to close at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, while restaurants will be permitted to stay open past this deadline provided they do not serve alcohol.

“The food is perfectly fine and the meal service can happen, but last call needs to be at 8 o’clock,” Dr. Henry said at a press conference on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, she also said that a current tapering off of case counts in the province may be due to lower testing rates, with some people self-censoring out of a desire to pursue activities.

Dr. Henry says a spike in cases is likely following the winter holidays, and Wednesday’s order is aimed at reducing that spike and specifically targets younger people.

On Wednesday, 485 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across B.C., and 11 more deaths were reported.

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