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Meeting friends outside is lower risk, not zero risk, says B.C.'s Dr. Henry

Last Updated Apr 16, 2021 at 7:41 am PDT

FILE - People sit and lie in the sun at Kitsilano Beach Park in Vancouver, on Saturday, May 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C.'s top doctor says if people need to see others, they need to ensure they're taking the necessary precautions

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 virus variants means 'there's no margin for error right now'

Many have been confused by messaging from Dr. Henry, who's said we shouldn't gather, but can under some circumstances

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s top doctor is once again urging us to be diligent, ahead of what’s set to be the warmest weekend in the Lower Mainland so far this year.

Meteorologist Michael Kuss says the region is expected to see temperatures as high as the mid-20s this weekend. With sunny, warm weather ahead, it’s expected many people will make their way outdoors to soak up some sun with friends and family.

While we’re allowed to go outside with some people who aren’t in our immediate household, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it doesn’t mean we should.

Her messaging has confused many people, with strong urgings to avoid all gatherings, but also the understanding that we need that social connection.

That’s why she says if we must gather with others, we need to ensure we are taking the necessary precautions.

“It needs to be the same, small group of people,” she said Thursday. “We know that outside is lower risk. It’s not zero, but it is lower risk.”

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Henry reminds us to keep our distance, and if we’re seeing someone outside and we’re closer together, we should be wearing masks.

“It is about the number of people that we are in close contact with without using our protections,” she explained. “So that means indoor environments are riskier than outdoor environments. We have larger numbers of people, if we’re talking loudly, if we’re singing, if we’re in a poorly ventilated area — those are riskier situations and there’s no margin for error right now.”

She says it’s more likely COVID-19 can be transmitted in those types of situations, which is why it’s key to ensure we are doing everything we can to bring the risk down, especially with variants in the mix.

“We need to pay attention to what we know works to prevent those transmissions, and that means staying small, staying outside, wearing masks, keeping our distance from people — the things that we know stop transmission have not changed. What has changed is our risk has changed because this virus is transmitting more easily,” Henry said.

B.C.’s top doctor reported 1,205 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with three new deaths and a record 409 people in hospital, including 125 in intensive care.

She also revealed new modelling that showed if we don’t bring transmission down and become more diligent with our contacts, B.C. could see 3,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.