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

Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO, holds information brochures for the Light the Trees campaign, part of an effort to raise $5 million for the new intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Million-dollar donation has Light the Trees campaign off to a bright start in Nanaimo

Windsor Plywood Foundation supports Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation

Regional District of Nanaimo will be receiving $1.17 million from the B.C. government in COVID-19 safe restart grant money. (News Bulletin file)
Regional District of Nanaimo directors getting started on budgeting decisions

Proposed tax requisitions for 2021 range from 7.3-per cent increase to 2.2-per cent decrease

A sport utility vehicle and a Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools work van crashed on Bowen Road near the intersection with Caspers Way this afternoon. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Drivers taken to hospital after head-on crash on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

Crash happened near Caspers Way intersection Friday afternoon

École North Oyster. (Black Press file)
With more student drop-offs during pandemic, SD68 examines safety outside North Oyster school

Fewer school bus trips and more cars accentuating traffic concerns, say school district staff

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

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson takes her oaths of office virtually on Thursday. (B.C. Government YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson named B.C.’s mental health and addictions minister

Malcolmson succeeds Judy Darcy, who did not seek re-election

Police in Nanaimo never know what they’ll encounter when called upon to check on the well-being of people. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP find ‘heart-breaking’ circumstances during wellness checks

Police offer sampling of outcomes from well-being checks over recent weeks

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.”

Most Read