Government brings in restrictions to combat Omicron variant
The government of British Columbia is introducing new COVID-19 measures as of Monday in light of the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
These measures will include limits on indoor, personal gatherings, a reduction of crowds at large venues, and all New Year's Eve organized gatherings restricted to being seated-only.
Also, British Columbians are advised to limit indoor gatherings to those who are fully vaccinated.
The new measures will run to Jan. 31, 2022.
At a somber, and sometimes emotional media briefing Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, while we had made progress and “turned the corner” on dealing with the previous wave of the pandemic, "it is the reality of where we are. Right now, we need to slow the spread.”
Henry said she knows how important it is to spend time with people, but gatherings need to be small and limited to people you know and who have been vaccinated.
“We have been through a lot in this province, and we need to be with family and friends at this time,” she noted, while controlling her emotions as she reflected on the relentless difficult news in B.C. in 2021. She was among those awoken early this morning by the 3.6 magnitude earthquake off Vancouver Island.
“Sometimes it can be challenging to think ‘are we going to make it through this year?’ We are.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new measures are needed for a safe holiday season and to combat a “vicious virus that lives to spread and spreads to live.
“This has not been easy, not for any of us,” he said. “But, almost two years ago we committed together, I think, to fight, and we’ve done that every step of the way and done so in a way that has supported each other.”
Dix said the coming weeks will be very challenging and the pandemic has tested everyone. He maintains the public needs to be cautious and prudent in its action to combat the Omicron variant.
* limiting indoor, personal gatherings, including in rental and vacation properties to the household/residents plus 10 individuals, or one additional household maximum if all are aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated;
* requiring the BC Vaccine Card for organized events of all sizes and ensuring the QR code is scanned at events;
* seating requirements and restricting movement between tables at food and liquor-serving premises, and reinforcing the need to wear masks when not seated;
* limiting venues of 1,000 individuals or more to 50% of the seated capacity with reinforced masking requirements and scanning of the BC Vaccine Card QR code;
* pausing all sports tournaments while the order is in effect; and
* all New Year's Eve organized gatherings and events will be restricted to being seated-only events, with no mingling or dancing allowed.
The provincial health officer is also emphasizing the need for retail stores to have COVID-19 safety plans in place for holiday and Boxing Day sales.
Published 2021-12-17 by Glenn Hicks
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