(Photo by Colin Smith Takes Pics)

BC has seen its first easing of the provincial restrictions as we head into Spring Break.

With just days to go, BC has amended its province-wide COVID-19 orders when it comes to gatherings.

During Thursday’s press conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the orders have been amended to allow for outside gatherings of up to 10 people.

“This means your children can have a playdate with their friends… their safe group of friends, over the March break,” said Henry.

“You can meet friends outside, for a coffee, a chat, a connection, a picnic in the park.”

Henry urged people to still use safety when meeting with their safe group, including wearing a mask or maintaining some distance.

There are no changes to the current restrictions on indoor gatherings – in our homes or elsewhere. The requirements for restaurants and bars also continue.

Similar to New Year’s Eve, the province is altering its COVID-19 public health orders to cut off alcohol sales early on St. Patrick’s Day.

The province will be ceasing liquor sales at 8 p.m. on March 17th in an effort to limit gatherings on St. Patrick’s Day, rather than the 10 p.m. cutoff that has applied during the pandemic.

“Right now, we have to save those parties for the summer,” said Henry, noting inhibitions drop when people are drinking.

The province reported 569 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, including 41 people who tested positive in the Island Health region.

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