(Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister Adrian Dix/Photo by Colin Smith Takes Pics)

As cases surge across BC, the provincial government have announced new COVID-19 restrictions including limiting gatherings at homes and organized events, starting on Monday, December 20th.

The announcement was made during a live press conference Friday afternoon by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

The new orders, meant to curb transmission of the virus throughout the holidays, will remain in effect throughout the month of January.

The measures will include new size limits for personal gatherings, stricter rules for dining at restaurants, and the expansion of vaccine passport requirements.

The following restrictions will take effect on Monday:

  • Indoor personal gatherings, including in rental and vacation properties are now limited to one household plus 10 other individuals, or one additional household, but only if all in attendance fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people should not be permitted
  • The province is now requiring all events of any size to scan BC Vaccine Card – the QR code must be scanned at all events
  • As in the past, movement between tables at food establishments like restaurants will be restricted and masks wearing when not seated must be enforced
  • Large events and concerts with over 1,000 people in attendance, such as Victoria Royals games, will operate at 50% capacity.
  • All sports tournaments in BC are to be suspended
  • All New Year’s Eve  gatherings and events will be restricted to being seated-only events, with no mingling or dancing allowed

The provincial health officer is also emphasizing the need for retail stores to have COVID-19 safety plans in place for holiday and Boxing Day sales.

“These measures will help us to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the ones we care about,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Slowing the spread and keeping each other safe is a cause in which we are all connected. It’s that togetherness that will get all of us through the next days and weeks.”

BC’s COVID-19 case rate has nearly doubled over the past week.

So far, there have been 135 cases of the Omicron variant of concern identified in the province, with numbers expected to rise rapidly.

“While vaccination remains the best defence against COVID-19, we are now dealing with the new threat of a more transmissible variant,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

“We need to take these measures until we understand the full impact Omicron will have in the BC context. It is imperative people follow the new orders in how they celebrate this season. However, there are many things we can now do safely with reasonable and prudent measures like wearing a mask, staying home when sick, getting tested and, most importantly, getting fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Henry.

In addition to the provincial health officer orders, the province is urging BC residents to limit indoor gatherings to those who are fully vaccinated, to ensure proper ventilation indoors, to avoid all travel if not fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, December 17th, BC Health officials announced 753 new cases, the most daily cases since the end October.

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