VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — British Columbians will still need to adhere to COVID-19 orders over the holidays now that the provincial health officer has extended the restrictions into the new year.
The orders brought in last month to slow the spread of the virus will continue until Jan. 8, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday. This means, with a few exceptions, British Columbians should not be gathering indoors with people outside their immediate households over the holidays, and Henry is still advising against non-essential travel.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that we continue to have very high levels of transmission and community spread here in British Columbia,” she said. “We can still be festive. We can still connect with family, and with friends in a safe and virtual way.”
Q: Why extend orders until Jan 8 rather than just 2 weeks?
Henry: Partly to capture all holiday season. Recognize seeing impact of orders, but it’s not at point where we can let off. There are important events happening & need ppl to realize we are stuck pandemic until new year
— Lasia Kretzel (@lkretzel1130) December 8, 2020
Under the renewed order, there is an exception for drive-thru and drive-in events, like light displays and toy drives, but everyone in the car still needs to be from the same household. Drive-in-and-stay events with less than 50 vehicles in attendance are also allowed.
Henry noted the restrictions have been making a difference, since new infections have been levelling off recently. However, hospitalizations have been rising, tripling over the course of November. There are currently 349 patients in hospital, with 77 in critical care. She added the health-care system is feeling the strain and measures are needed to lower the numbers.
BC #covid19 Dec 7
85 deaths in the first seven days of December
More than 1/2 BC's covid deaths happened since Nov 1
LTC/acute care outbreaks remain very high
Overall hospitals under pressure to keep up
Restrictions on social gatherings/events to stay to Jan 8#bcpoli @NEWS1130 https://t.co/u2GOkjsnNn pic.twitter.com/BZ84RqbG4j
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) December 8, 2020
“We cannot afford to have a rebound and have increased numbers of people being sick and ending up in hospital,” Henry said.
This comes as she announced 2,020 new infections and 35 deaths since Friday.
35 deaths (Total 527, 1.89% of resolved cases)
Total new cases: 2,020
10 of these were epi-linked
— Lasia Kretzel (@lkretzel1130) December 7, 2020
Including Monday’s update, 527 people have lost their lives to the virus while 38,157 cases have been confirmed.
Six more outbreaks were reported in health-care facilities, while five have ended. There’s also a community outbreak at a mink farm in the Fraser Health region.
Click here for details on the order or watch the full COVID-19 update here: