(Image / Island Health Facebook)

The self-proclaimed ‘freedom convoy’ now has one less reason to march their way to the Legislature to dispute their rights. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced on Thursday, April 6th that more mask and vaccination mandates will be ending effective immediately. 

Mask and vaccine requirements currently in place for staff and visitors to enter long-term care, assisted living and healthcare facilities have come to an end, with some exceptions. 

“These changes signify a step forward in returning to pre-pandemic operations in long-term care, assisted living, and healthcare facilities while continuing to maintain a safe environment for all,” said Dr. Henry and Dix in their statement. 

“However, there will still be some situations where masks will be required in healthcare settings or situations where they have always been required to protect high-risk patients against respiratory transmitted infections and protect workers against high-risk exposure to infectious diseases.”

“It’s important to recognize that COVID-19 is still with us, and as such, we must remain vigilant and continue surveillance to monitor the situation,” they added. 

“As we approach the next respiratory season, we will be prepared to consider measures that may be necessary to ensure the safe functioning of our healthcare system, including potentially reinstating some of the current measures.”

These restrictions being lifted are the result of a decrease across the board when it comes to respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

The decrease of illnesses is in large-part due to compliance with vaccinations being up to date and booster shots being administered, according to Dr. Henry and Dix.

With spring upon British Columbians and a new respiratory season’s arrival, the province has spring COVID-19 boosters distributed throughout BC as a preventative measure. 

“Beginning this week, the spring booster vaccine program is available to provide a boost of immunity for people at the highest risk of severe illness or hospitalization, including those over 80 or immune compromised,” Dr. Henry and Dix said in their joint statement. 

“The new booster will help to maintain and lengthen protection against severe outcomes of COVID-19, especially hospitalization and death.”

“We also continue to encourage everyone six months and older to get immunized with a primary series and, if eligible, a booster dose, including anyone 18 and over who has not yet received a bivalent booster dose.”

Appointments can be made throughout BC at pharmacies or public clinics. To book an appointment, visit the Get Vaccinated website or phone 1-883-838-2323.

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