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'The fewer people we see now, the safer we will all be,' says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Last Updated Dec 24, 2020 at 7:09 am PST

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Summary

If you want your loved ones around next Christmas, keep them safe right now

High mortality rates and increasing COVID in long term care, as Christmas nears

Leaders and officials pleading with Canadians to stay strong and stay home

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — If you’ve never saved a human life before, now is your chance: all you have to do is stay home, wash your hands and sacrifice a few Yule traditions.

Politicians, health officials and healthcare workers, across the country, are pleading with Canadians to do the right thing and break the chain of Christmas COVID-19 transmission.

“The fewer people we see now, the safer we will all be. We need to show we care by staying physically apart and connecting virtually,” says B.C. Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“You are a COVID-19 prevention expert, all of us are. And we know we can make it through this. We’ve come this far, let’s finish this year and start 2021 in the best possible place we can be,” she said.

Unfortunately, it’s the hardest time of year to forgo the companionship of others, as Christmas and other holidays centre around traditions of togetherness and fellowship, but as Saskatchewan Premier Scott More says, it’s necessary.

“Again I know this is not the Christmas we wanted. I can assure you there is no one in our government who would be asking you to do this, to spend Christmas this way, if it wasn’t absolutely necessary’, but it is necessary,” he said Wednesday.

In Alberta, where hospitals are truly strained under the increasing load of COVID-19 cases, Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw told Albertans what happens next on the province’s epidemiological curve is up to them.

“It will, as I often say, depend on us and the choices that we make,” she said.

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In B.C., the province is stepping up enforcement to ensure people stick to their own households and don’t throw illegal Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.

“By order and direction of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), all events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions and travel. The order is in effect from November 19, 2020, at midnight to January 8, 2021, at midnight,” says the health ministry’s website.

Dr. Henry took the opportunity on Wednesday to plead with people, once more, before taking a break of her own for the next few days.

“I remind everyone to keep your celebrations small, to avoid travel to other communities, to stay local, stay small, show you care by staying apart and connecting with people in safe ways,” she said.

“We want our family, our loved ones to be there for the next celebration, for the holiday that we’re going to have when we get this pandemic under control.”

She also asked people to use caution while shopping for last-minute gifts as malls and markets filled quickly in the final days before Christmas and reminded retailers that WorkSafe B.C. will be stepping up enforcement of updated restrictions.

“I encourage people to stay local; go and visit your local retailers but go in small numbers,” she said.

“But I also remind retailers of the need to ensure capacity limits meet the requirements of the orders, that one-way paths are followed, that barriers and mask requirements are being followed,” she said.

For those unable to wear a mask she’s asking them to call ahead and arrange pick-up or considering shopping at another time, given the holiday rush.