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Outdoor gatherings of 10 now allowed in B.C.

Last Updated Mar 11, 2021 at 7:08 pm PDT

Summary

Dr. Bonnie Henry says outdoor gatherings should be limited to the same 10 people, with safety measures in place

No changes to B.C.'s restrictions on indoor gatherings

Liquor sales cut off as of 8 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s top doctor has made changes to the provincial health order to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, though the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet.

“We know we need that social connection. Right now, what we can do is safely move outside for some of those connections,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.

Much like last year’s “Safe Six” rule, you are asked to keep your contacts to the same 10 people — outdoors only — and continue with safety measures like mask wearing and physical distancing.

“This means your children can have a playdate with their friends over the March Break, but with the same group of friends,” she added.

Henry emphasizes the amendment to the health order only applies to outdoor gatherings, and the restrictions on indoor gatherings have not changed.

“No dinner parties. Don’t ask your favourite restaurant to have a special event for you,” she said. “Those are the types of situations that we’ve seen can lead to transmission, that will undo all that we have accomplished. The restrictions that we have in bars and restaurants and pubs remain in effect. All of the restrictions that we need and we know work in our retail settings in all of the businesses that are open those we need to adhere to more than ever, right now.”

“We can spend time with a maximum of 10 people — the same peopleoutside, but smaller continues to be better. And if you’re going to be to see others, it has to be outside,” Henry said.

When it comes to travel within B.C., Henry says nothing has changed in that regard. She says people need to stay local and explore their own regions.

“I do think over March Break if you are a family and you’re going to your cabin and you’re self-contained, that that’s okay. But we really need to stick to our households and stick to our limited travel,” she said.

“Focus on staying small,” she added. “Staying with your family — your household — exploring your neighbourhood, doing day trips. There are many things that we can do in day trips. Don’t go from areas of high risk to low risk.”

This announcement comes as B.C. records another 569 cases, for a total of 86,219.

Three more people have died, for a total of 1,397.

Right now, Indigenous peoples age 65 and up and other British Columbians aged 85 and up are able to book appointments for their COVID-19 vaccines.

Early booze cut-off St. Patrick’s Day

The province is also cutting off liquor sales at 8 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day.

“That is a day where [people] like to gather together and have parties and we know that alcohol sales can be a part of people losing inhibitions and perhaps forgetting their COVID safety plans,” she said.

“We have consulted with the food and beverage industry and I had a number of conversations and they as well are committed to keeping our communities safe,” she added.

This is much more advanced notice than was given ahead of New Year’s. The province had announced on Dec. 30 that liquor sales would be cut off early New Year’s Eve, which led to sudden cancellations at bars and restaurants, as well as crowds at liquor stores.

‘It’s been a challenging year,’ says an emotional Henry

Henry says the “unrelenting uncertainty” that we have been through together has taken its toll.

“Now is the time that we need to reach out again. We need to remember each other. We know that this has been hard and particularly on our seniors and elders. Connect with them by staying apart and keeping them safe,” she said.

“Connect with the young people in your lives. They have had the least influence and the most impact — we see that in economic data; we see that in the school data; we see that in young people having challenges with jobs, having challenges with doing online university. Reach out to the young people in your life. Remember how important it is to hold them close,” Henry said, her usually steady voice wavering.

She took a long pause before continuing.

“It’s been a challenging year for us all,” she said, her voice full of emotion. “And now’s the time again … to re-double our efforts. To remember to be kind to each other because that is what makes a difference. And that is what will make us safe.”