Amid an active COVID-19 outbreak in the Central Okanagan region of British Columbia, the provincial government has now implemented more restrictive rules to prevent additional spread of the virus.
“This is not where we wanted to be, obviously, right now,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer said at a press conference on Friday.
The new rules for this region include:
Outdoor personal gatherings limited to 50 people, which includes birthday parties, block parties and backyard barbecues
Indoor personal gatherings are limited to five people, or one other household
Indoor, seated organized gatherings, and outdoor organized gatherings, are limited to 50 people with COVID-19 safety plans in place
Nightclubs and bars must close
Restaurant seatings can only be in groups of up to six people, but not restricted to one household
Liquor service must stop at 10:00 p.m. local time
Indoor, low-intensity group exercise can continue with capacity limits
Indoor, high-intensity group exercise is suspended
Vacation rentals, accommodations, including boats and house boats, are limited to five people plus the occupants
Dr. Sue Pollock, chief medical health officer of Interior Health, confirmed that since the outbreak was declared on last week, it has almost tripled, rising from about 320 cases to 1,200. There are currently over 700 active COVID-19 cases in the region, 31 people in hospital, including 10 in critical care units.
The majority of the cases are in un-immunized young adults between the ages of 20 and 40.
“If you have travel planned this weekend to the Central Okanagan we strongly consider that you change your travel plans. If you have already made plans and are there right now, these restrictions on parties at rental accommodations do apply.”Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer
“For events planned this weekend, we know that we can’t change those immediately. What we need you to do is ensure that you have safety plans in place that, as much as possible, un-immunized people should not attend these events, whether it’s a wedding or a birthday party or a formal organized event.”
Dr. Henry added that everyone should keep a list of individuals who were in attendance at any event or gathering.
She added that officials are “strongly recommending” that people avoid any non-essential travel to and from the Central Okanagan region.
“Do not come if you are not immunized,” Dr. Henry said.
“If you have travelled recently to the Central Okanagan, you need to know that this virus is spreading rapidly, it is much more transmissible… you must monitor yourself for symptoms and get tested if any arise.”
B.C.’s provincial health officer added that the outbreak is being driven by the Delta variant, accounting for 80 per cent of the cases in the Interior Health region since the beginning of July.