Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. British Columbia’s Ministry of Health is clarifying new rules around social gatherings, one day after a new regional public health order was issued. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. British Columbia’s Ministry of Health is clarifying new rules around social gatherings, one day after a new regional public health order was issued. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. Health Ministry clarifies social gathering rules of new regional order

Under the new order, there are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household

B.C.’s Ministry of Health is clarifying new rules around social gatherings, one day after a new regional public health order was issued.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new orders in a special media briefing Saturday amid spiking COVID-19 cases and they apply to residents of the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions for the next two weeks.

In a statement Sunday, the ministry says that under the new order, there are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household.

It says this includes not only gatherings in your home, but also outdoors, at restaurants or at other venues.

Restaurants can remain open but guests must stick to a table with their own household members.

Going for a walk is not considered a social gathering, but British Columbians need to be vigilant that a walk doesn’t turn into a group of people gathering outside.

“I know there has been some confusion on what immediate household means,” Ministry spokeswoman Shannon Greer says in an email.

“To give some context, these would be the people you spend the most time with and are physically close to. These would be people who are part of your regular routine, so household members, immediate family, a close friend or the people you have regular close contact with (for example a co-parent who lives outside the household).”

Those who live alone cannot host gatherings, but can continue to see members of what they would consider their immediate household at home, outside or at a restaurant, she says.

The new orders will be in effect until Nov. 23 at 3 p.m.

The Central Coast and Bella Coola valley are exempt, as Henry said Saturday they are “geographically different” and more closely linked to Interior Health. The community of Hope has also been added to the exemption list.

Non-essential travel to and from the regions in question, which span the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, is strongly discouraged, Henry said Saturday.

The order also prohibits indoor group fitness such as dance, yoga and spin classes.

Businesses and recreation centres that host those activities must remain closed until their local medical health officer approves a safety plan.

The Ministry clarified Sunday that those businesses must remain closed until that’s the case, whether or not the two-week order has expired.

Medical health officers will work hard to sign off plans as quickly as possible, it said.

“We know this is difficult, but it’s only for two weeks. As Dr. Henry has said British Columbians have flattened the curve before and they can do it again,” Greer said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read