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

Ah, the good ol’ days of high school. It turns out in some ways, they never seem to end. (Now-Leader file photo)
SIMPSON: If pettiness of politics around Surrey feels familiar, there’s a good reason why

Name-calling, finger-pointing, bullying, threats – where have we seen all this before?

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum talks to media on in 2018 after council gave the green light to a controversial five-year budget. (File photo: Amy Reid)
LETTER: Surrey mayor is fooling with our bank books

Reader asks if residents will be able to pay McCallum’s new tax

White Rock and Surrey RCMP – along with police forces across the province – have launched their holiday CounterAttack campaigns. (Contributed graphic)
White Rock, Surrey RCMP CounterAttack campaigns underway

Enforcement ramps up to remove impaired drivers from cities’ roadways

Firefighters battle a house fire in Fleetwood on Dec. 2, 2020. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
One man sent to hospital, two people arrested after Surrey fire

‘This was so frightening to see in person,’ witness posts after blaze at 160th Street and 89th Avenue

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read