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Personal safety risk key with updated COVID safety guidance, says B.C. doctor

Last Updated Jun 25, 2021 at 7:05 pm PDT


Canada has released new guidance to help you assess how risky an upcoming social activity may be

B.C.'s Dr. Birinder Narang says new guidance is very general, leaves people to assess their own risk

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Now that more people have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, we are getting more clarity on what is safe and not safe to do depending on your vaccination status. On Friday, Canada’s top doctor came out with new guidance to help you decide, and it has a certain amount of caution.

Of the five gathering situations the guideline chart lists, only one gives the green light for everyone — fully, partially, and unvaccinated — to take of their masks: outside at small gatherings.

B.C.’s Dr. Birinder Narang, who has been on the frontlines of promoting vaccination with #ThisIsOurShot, says it still leaves a lot up to individuals to assess their risk.

“There’s a lot of language in there which says ‘consider doing this if you’re able to.’ I think that’s what’s really important … because these are general recommendations,” he said.

Narang adds there are limitations on what general guidance can do, “when it comes to your own life, who you’re inviting into your life and … your home, and what their personal risk factors are.”

The federal guidance suggests caution or extreme caution for all indoor gatherings, noting people need to follow their local public health restrictions.

Narang says this is a good reminder heading into a hot weekend, when many will want to be inside.

According to the federal guidelines, physical distancing and masks are not required for fully vaccinated residents in the following circumstances:

  • Outdoors with a group of fully vaccinated individuals
  • Indoors with a small group of fully vaccinated individuals
  • Outdoors with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or their vaccination status is unknown

If you are a greater risk of serious illness, these are the circumstances where fully vaccinated residents should consider wearing a mask and physically distance from others:

  • Indoors with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or their vaccination status is unknown
  • Indoors or outdoors in a large crowd where people are closely gathering, e.g. a concert, house party or sports event.

It is recommended to continue wearing a mask indoors for those who are partially vaccinated or have not been vaccinated yet.

Narang feels we should avoid looking at things as “all or nothing” situations.

“Be cautious, invite people in slowly. But when you do … you can take off the masks if you’re both vaccinated, and you don’t have to worry about setting up pylons around the house. It is kind of about taking that bridge back to normalcy.”

The full guidelines can be read below:

Vaccinated Against Covid 19 Public Health Measures by CityNewsToronto on Scribd

Narang says while there are still COVID-19 variants out there, “we’re still blessed that the most effective tool we have are highly effective vaccines, which are keeping us alive.”

“When we’re seeing these surges in other places in the world, there’s a direct correlate with how vaccinated a population is to how well people are surviving,” he added.

A “My COVID-19 Visit Risk Calculator” is now available online.

The quiz, which takes just minutes to complete, is aimed at helping people better understand the factors that affect the risk of getting COVID-19 when visiting or gathering with others. The questionnaire generates a “personalized report” to advise you on how risky your upcoming social event is.

Over 75 per cent of eligible Canadians have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 27 per cent are fully vaccinated.

B.C. has similar vaccination rates compared to the rest of the country.

With files from Meredith Bond