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Dr. Bonnie Henry provides clarification on new gatherings order ahead of holidays

On Christmas Eve, B.C.'s top doctor clarified what you should do this year.

If you are somewhat confused about B.C.'s new orders on gatherings over the holidays, you are not alone. 

Health Officials announced sweeping changes to B.C.'s Public Health Act on Tuesday (Dec. 21) in the wake of surging cases of coronavirus in the province.

Locals may not attend indoor organized gatherings of any size, but they may have up to 10 other individuals or one other household in their home—but that doesn't mean that they should. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing on Friday morning that people should ultimately try to keep their gatherings as small as possible to minimize the risk of transmission. 

While people may elect to have 10 individuals from 10 different households in their home, Henry emphasized that it is "not a recommendation" and that health officials "want people to keep it small." That said, she also noted that "there are some groups of people who are close connections. They may be sisters and brothers and a family who come from different households." 

The maximum number of people is 10, but the health officer stated that people must consider how they can reduce risk. Paramount to all considerations, however, is whether or not they feel ill, even if their symptoms are mild. 

"Right now people need to think if I have any symptoms at all, even if I think it's just the sniffles or cold that I don't want to be around my new nephew or niece or don't want to be around my grandparents or people who might have more severe illness if they get sick with this," she explained.

"If you have any symptoms. Stay away from the gatherings right now. Keep those groups small. If there's anybody who has immune-compromising conditions, people going through cancer treatment, you know, find ways to connect with your family and your close friends in ways that aren't going to put you at risk.

B.C. set another record for daily cases of the virus on Thursday, with 2,046 new infections reported. Henry noted that the virus is "spreading very rapidly" and that the record-breaking figure doesn't account for people that didn't get tested. 

"There are many more people who are just doing the right things and staying at home. So we all need to rethink how we spend the next few days. And if you have any concerns at all, put it off," she said. 

"You know, find ways to connect that are meaningful, and that will get you through this period of time. And I know that means for some people, disappointingly, you're going to have to reassess your plans. You know, do the home delivery of turkey and meals. We've seen a lot of that.

"That's how we get through this together." 

Find out more information about B.C.'s new public health orders