B.C.'s top doctor is extending the current orders on gatherings, events, and food and liquor serving establishments.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a briefing Tuesday (Jan. 18) that the current restrictions on gatherings and events will be extended through Feb. 16.
The orders were initially announced Dec. 21, 2021.
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.
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 and nightclubs remain ordered closed.
"So this will apply to the closures that we have right now in bars and nightclubs," Henry said. "Limitations that we have in restaurants to make sure that we're minimizing the risk of transmission in those settings...and the capacity limits."
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.
Indoor events at venues can only have 50 per cent capacity, no matter the size. Examples of indoor events at venues include theatres, sports events, lectures, and concerts.
The COVID-19 safety plan order remains in place for numerous B.C. workplaces. The plan includes employees working from home when possible, practicing physical distancing, and keeping staff separate from customers. The order is specific to industry and businesses and does not apply to child care, K-12 schools or post-secondary education.
"And I would like to remind all businesses that this is something that will help us to continue to function and to function through this next few weeks as well," Henry noted.
The BC Vaccine Card Program will continue to cover events of all sizes, regardless of the number of people attending.
Henry noted, however, that the province is "taking the cautious step" of reopening gyms and other fitness facilities with new guidelines in place.
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.
Health officials will reevaluate the need for the public health orders when they are set to expire on Feb. 16.