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B.C. extends public health orders impacting gatherings, gyms and bars

B.C. health officials will provide further comments on the extension in a briefing on Tuesday.
Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will be sharing more information on Jan. 18, during one of their regular COVID-19 briefings.

The provincial health officer's orders on gatherings and events, food and liquor serving establishments, and gyms and fitness centres have been extended. 

Health officials first announced new restrictions on gatherings and events in a press briefing on Dec. 17 and added additional changes on Dec. 21. From couples hoping to tie the knot with a large reception to companies hosting large celebratory events, the order states that no indoor organized gatherings are permitted. Additionally, bars, nightclubs, fitness centres, and dance studios were closed.

Seated events saw their capacity reduced to 50 per cent regardless of their venue size, which marks a departure from the Dec. 17 announcement that only venues for over 1,000 people would see their capacity limited

Restaurants, pubs, and cafes are permitted to stay open but only a maximum of six guests may be seated per table (plus physical distancing or barriers). Guests cannot mingle between tables.

The new orders came into effect on Dec. 22 at 11:59 p.m. and were set to expire on Jan. 18. However, the B.C. Ministry of Health confirmed in an email to Glacier Media that they have been extended and an update will be provided in the Jan. 18 briefing. 

Overview of public health orders in B.C. 

The new guidance followed several changes to the Public Health Act announced on Dec. 17 that include restrictions on gatherings and events. 

The BC Vaccine Card Program was extended to cover events of all sizes, regardless of the number of people attending. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a previous media availability that the order "no longer starts with events of 50 or more people, which has been the case in the last few months."

Indoor gatherings continue to be limited to one household plus 10 other individuals or one other household. Everyone who attends a gathering must be vaccinated; no unvaccinated people may attend parties or social gatherings. That said, B.C.'s top doctor encourages people to keep personal gatherings as small as possible and stick to the same group.

All sports tournaments are also cancelled until the orders are lifted. 

Safety recommendations

In addition to the orders, the PHO strongly recommends:

  • Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor
  • Reduce social interactions
  • Ensure proper ventilation indoors by opening windows
  • Avoid all travel, if you're not fully vaccinated
  • Follow the current federal travel advisory
  • Stay home if you feel sick

Take a look at all of B.C.'s provincial and regional restrictions on the government website