People watch a youth soccer match, in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday, November 7, 2020. B.C. public health orders banning social gatherings are in effect Nov. 7-23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

People watch a youth soccer match, in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday, November 7, 2020. B.C. public health orders banning social gatherings are in effect Nov. 7-23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. fields tough COVID-19 questions on urban restrictions

Ban on private social gatherings as business, school carry on

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is walking a fine line to keep schools and businesses functioning as the province prepares for more big COVID-19 infection numbers from the weekend.

B.C. hit a daily high on Friday, Nov. 13 with 617 new coronavirus cases reported, as the second week of restrictions on the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions began. Orders in effect from Nov. 7 to 23 put a stop to travel for sports and leisure to and from the Lower Mainland, and indoor group fitness and social gatherings at private homes within the two health regions that have seen most of the increased virus spread.

Guidance posted over the weekend clarifies that people living alone can “continue to see one or two members of their pandemic bubble at each other’s homes,” where the pandemic bubble is your household.

Much of the guidance defines what is or isn’t a social gathering. There is no order restricting travel in or out of the Lower Mainland, and work, medical appointments and other essential business carries on during the two weeks of the order. COVID-19 test results will determine if the restrictions are extended past Nov. 23.

Religious services continue with safety plans for a limit of 50 people, and work or family-related travel and car-pooling to school or work is allowed. The guidance answers common questions, such as why Henry has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces.

“Dr. Henry expects everyone who can to use masks, the same way she expects everyone to maintain a safe distance from others, clean their hands and cough into their sleeves,” the guidance documents say.

RELATED: Canada approaches 300,000 COVID-19 cases

RELATED: Second COVID-19 vaccine shows early success

And then there are schools, with classrooms arranged in cohorts to minimize their number of contacts. School transmission is being monitored and the risk has been considered low compared to higher-risk activities.

Q: “Why is it safe for a teacher to be in a classroom of 26 students, but not see a few close friends?”

A: “This order is based on evidence that social gatherings, particularly in household settings but also in other social situations such as gatherings before or after sports events or indoor group physical activities are causing significant COVID-19 transmission.

“People who violate this order bring exposure risks into their home, risks that they latter take with them to their workplaces. We all need to reduce our social interactions so we can keep our schools and workplaces open.”

Restaurants, pubs and movie theatres continue to operate as before. Like classrooms, these are considered controlled settings, where seating is spaced and moving from one seat group to another is not permitted, unlike wedding and funeral receptions where large groups have not been effectively regulated.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

The Town of Sidney will receive $2.75 million in direct grant support from the provincial government to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report before council Monday recommends a “cautious and measured approach” in using the funds. (Black Press Media File)
Staff suggest Sidney be cautious spending $2.75 million from province

Staff also warn of financial ‘uncertainty’ and raise prospect of tax increase

North Saanich will encourage but not force residents to burn outdoor waste on days with good venting index. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich fires up comprehensive strategy report on outdoor burning, green waste disposal

North Saanich to encourage but not require residents to burn only on days with good venting index

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Most Read