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British Columbians can expect some normalcy to return in late new year

Last Updated Dec 10, 2020 at 5:19 am PST

FILE - Packages of face masks. (CITYNEWS/Tony Fera)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Now that we know vaccines are on their way, many are wondering how long it will take before we see an end to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and practices.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday the pandemic should be on its last legs in the fall of 2021, if everything goes according to plan.

“Obviously I don’t know all the details and how it’s going to work. But if everything goes as planned, that’s where we’re looking at. So, I think we are going to have a very different and much more social summer. And I think in the next fall we’ll get back to some semblance of our normal ways of interacting with each other.”

Henry added, many of the restrictions we’re under will lift away, but we can’t just stop following health protocols too quickly.

“So yes, we probably won’t need to wear masks anymore, we won’t need to keep those distances, we will still of course need to stay home and stay away from others when we’re not feeling well and always wash our hands.”

The top doctor said we need to get 60 to 70 per cent of the population protected by the vaccine first, by which point she noted the virus would have “a very hard time finding a new person to infect that isn’t already protected.”

“And once we get to that point that’s what we call, I like to say community immunity the technical term in the epidemiology word, this is herd immunity. When we reach that place, that is when transmission can be stopped,” she said.

RELATED: B.C. health-care workers to get first doses of COVID-19 vaccine next week

B.C. will start getting a first round of 4,000 COVID-19 vaccines next week.

The rollout will start with frontline workers in long-term care centres and COVID-19 units in hospitals, as well as those living in long-term care.

As more doses and vaccines get approved by Health Canada and sent to the general population, the expectation is around 400,000 people will be immunized in B.C. by March 2021.