While there hasn't been a dramatic uptick in coronavirus cases in the province, B.C.'s top doctor cautions that health officials will continue to evaluate the risk to public safety—and that might mean you'll have to reevaluate your holiday plans.
The federal government recently announced new travel restrictions related to the threat of the new Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa. Fully vaccinated individuals who travelled outside of the country or the United States within 14 days of their entry to Canada may be selected for arrival testing. They must quarantine until they receive a negative test result, too.
In the coming weeks, Canada will increase the number of travellers that are selected for testing until everyone is tested at the airport.
But B.C. hasn't added any new restrictions related to travel, despite growing concern over the threat of the new variant.
That said, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday (Dec. 14) that health officials will continue to reevaluate the situation at home and that changes are possible.
"We don't have travel restrictions anywhere...but it is a warning to people, of course. We take the risk from where we come [from] and we bring the risk home from where we've been," she said.
"If we look across the country...we look across the globe. We are seeing these surges in cases of COVID-19. Some of it driven by Omicron...much of it driven still by Delta.
"We're seeing it in Ontario. We're seeing it in Quebec. We're seeing it in France, Germany, in the UK."
The health officer went on to say that B.C. has "fairly strong restrictions" around events and gatherings but noted that the province is looking into further enforcement of the BC Vaccine Card program.
Face masks continue to be "more important than ever" heading into the winter season and people should wear ones with layers, noted Henry, who stressed the importance of the new mask guidance in a previous briefing.
"What I am telling people right now is to rethink what you are doing over the holidays in terms of having gatherings with people, particularly large social gatherings with people that you don't know their vaccination status," she said. " [We] need to be thoughtful about how we approach these holidays and more than ever need to be prudent.
"Focus on protecting your family, your community. Focus on having those close gatherings with your close friends, with your family.
"We all need to have a need to have that connection, especially after last year."