People wearing protective face masks play an air hockey game at Central City Fun Park on their opening weekend, in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, June 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

People wearing protective face masks play an air hockey game at Central City Fun Park on their opening weekend, in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, June 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

6 things you need to know about B.C.’s latest COVID-19 health orders

Mandatory masks, bans on social gatherings and more to take effect overnight Friday

B.C. officials have rolled out a number of new orders in their latest attempt to curb the rising number of new COVID-19 cases as the province tides the waters of the pandemic’s second wave.

“As we approach the darkest days of this year, we know there is light at the end of the tunnel,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Thursday (Nov. 19).

She urged British Columbians to follow the rules ahead of the holidays but didn’t rule out that the latest orders could be extended beyond their current Dec. 7 deadline if daily case counts don’t decrease enough.

READ MORE: 538 new infections, 1 death recorded as B.C. struggles with 50+ COVID outbreaks

Here’s a look at the biggest changes, which took effect at midnight Thursday.

1. Mandatory mask mandate

Masks are now required in public indoor and retail spaces. Henry asked the Public Safety Ministry to implement the order under the ongoing state of emergency to make face coverings mandatory. The mandate would exclude those who cannot wear masks due to a medical issue or disability, as well as children under the age of two.

The mask policy is not in effect in B.C. schools.

2. No events or social gatherings with anyone outside of your household

All indoor and outdoor community and social events have been suspended for the next two weeks. This includes events that include fewer than 50 people – the previous threshold for social gatherings – with the only exceptions being funerals, weddings and baptisms so long as fewer than 10 people attend without a reception.

The order already in place in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions on social gatherings has also been expanded B.C.-wide. Moving forward British Columbians should restrict their socializing to immediate household members. Those who live alone are being encouraged to stick to one or two close friends at most.

3. Non-essential travel not recommended

If British Columbians don’t have to travel for essential reasons, they are being asked to stay within their community.

“If you live in Penticton, you can go to Summerland. If you live in Victoria, though, and you want to go to Tofino, then not such a good idea right now,” Henry explained. “If you want to go to a store in another community, then plan ahead and go as infrequently as possible.”

Those who are travelling to B.C. from other provinces are also being asked to keep their contact to immediate household members only.

4. Some gym classes suspended until further notice

Some gym classes have been suspended until further notice. While a similar order has been in place in the Fraser Health region for a week, the new order impacts the entire province, specifically for high-intensity interval training, hot yoga and spin classes.

Meanwhile, WorkSafeBC will be increasing its inspections of gyms and other businesses to ensure adequate health protocols are being followed.

5. No spectators allowed at sports games, no travel outside your community

Whether indoors or outdoors, spectators will have to stay home when it comes to recreational sports. Travel outside of an athlete’s community to another in order to play a sport is also prohibited for two weeks.

“If you are in doubt, postpone it to a time when we have better management of the transmissions that we’re seeing in our communities right now,” Henry said.

“You can play the games within your own region only, and there’s no travel between different areas. That is where we’re seeing the risk. The risk is people car-pooling together, having to stay overnight.”

The order is not applicable for high-performance athletes if they have been training prior to Thursday.

6. Faith services suspended

All in-person faith services will be put on hold until Dec. 7. This doesn’t mean that people cannot visit churches or temples, Henry said, so long as health safety protocols are in place.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read