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B.C. to restrict number of visitors at rental properties, records COVID-19 death

Last Updated Jul 23, 2020 at 8:11 pm PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy B.C. Government, Flickr)
Summary

The order will be available within the next day and be tied to rental agreements

B.C. also recorded its first COVID-19 death in more than a week Thursday, as well as 30 new cases

The death occurred in long-term care, bringing the total related to the coronavirus in the province to 190

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province will introduce an order requiring rental properties — from houses to houseboats to Airbnb — to limit the number of guests and visitors to help curb transmission of COVID-19, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“As with most of our orders, the onus falls on the owner-operators to ensure that the restrictions are being followed. And we can support that with local bylaw enforcement and public health enforcement, as well,” she said. “So, we are working out the specifics.”

The order will be available within the next day and be tied to rental agreements, Henry added.

“The exact numbers we’re still working out and we have reached out to make sure that we have a way that is manageable,” she said.

“The order will apply across the province because we know that this is not just an issue in the Okanagan. This is an issue that has affected vacation and rental places across B.C.,” Henry said. “This will be another step in ensuring that we have those provisions in place that reduce the numbers of people who are gathering and the risk to all of us.”

More than 70 people have tested positive for COVID-19 following gatherings in Kelowna on the Canada Day long weekend.

B.C. also recorded its first COVID-19 death in more than a week Thursday, as well as 30 new cases, 11 of them in the Interior Health region.

The death occurred in long-term care, bringing the total related to the coronavirus in the province to 190.

The last two deaths in B.C. occurred on July 13.

The new cases bring the total in B.C. to 3,392. It’s the fourth straight day cases have surpassed 30 in B.C., while modelling data released earlier this week showed the potential for explosive growth in new cases if people aren’t more careful.

Henry reported no new healthcare facility outbreaks. One remains active at Holy Family Hospital, a long-term care home in Vancouver, as well as two acute care facilities.

She also responded to a question about a potential fall election and said her office has been in contact with the chief electoral officer since the start of the pandemic in March, when some byelections were scheduled.

“We did recommend, at that time, postponing the byelections, given the uncertainty that we were dealing with,” Henry said. “But we have an ongoing relationship and have been developing plans, so that we know that we have a minority government both here in B.C. and federally, as well as a number of elections and other municipal elections that are scheduled in the coming months. So, yes, we are working with them, so that we are prepared to, as a province, for whatever comes up, whether it be the fall or next spring next year. And that elections can happen safely.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said he’s concerned about the recent spike in cases.

“I think we have to put it all into context. I’m concerned. I think Dr. Henry is concerned, no matter how many cases they are because it shows that COVID-19 is still here. You’ve seen an increase in cases, pretty much, two weeks ago, 10 cases a week, 11, and now 20, and now 30,” he said.

“British Columbia lives in a sea of COVID-19. If you look at the case numbers in Washington State or in Alberta, they would be, I would say not happy, but probably pretty happy to have the case numbers we’ve had here.”

Cases in B.C. by health region since the pandemic began: 1,051 people in Vancouver Coastal; 1,750 in Fraser; 142 people in Island; 315 people in Interior; 77 in Northern; and 57 people who reside outside of Canada.

Of 304 active cases in the province, 16 remain in hospital, including three in critical care.