A new provincial health officer order on Monday will limit gatherings in private homes to no more than one’s immediate household, plus six others, for all occasions.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, and Stephen Brown, Deputy Minister of Health, made the announcement while announcing 817 new COVID-19 cases, including 11 epi-linked cases, and three new COVID-19-related deaths in British Columbia since Friday.
There were 317 new cases from October 23 to 24; 293 new cases from October 24 to 25; and 207 cases in the last 24 hours., we have had a further 207 new cases. The total number of cases is now 13,371 and the total number of deaths is 259.
Henry and Brown said: “Getting through our COVID-19 storm requires all of us to do our part – no exceptions and no workarounds. Every time a friend, neighbour or family member tries to put aside the provincial orders and safety precautions, our risk goes up.
“We remind everyone of the order on social gatherings for no more than 50 people. The order requires that every location must have sufficient space to maintain safe physical distancing between everyone, which means the vast majority of homes cannot safely accommodate large numbers of people.
“Similar to what occurred in the summer with vacation homes and rentals, we have seen a notable increase in new cases and transmission of COVID-19 as a direct result of social gatherings in private homes.
“As a result, a new provincial health officer order will be put in place today limiting gatherings in private homes to no more than your immediate household, plus six others. This is a provincewide order that applies to all homes for all occasions.
“Enforcement will be stepped up to ensure people are following this new order, with the immediate focus on the Fraser Health region, where the increase in new cases is most notable.
“Just as religious leaders throughout the province have so strongly supported our provincial response, so we are calling on community leaders to do the same in order to help your communities do the right thing as we work to address this global pandemic.
“In addition to this new order and in light of the increased risks with respiratory season, the expectation is that people will wear masks in all indoor public spaces. As part of this, businesses are asked to review their COVID-19 safety plans with this in mind. If you are in a high-traffic area or among many people outside of your household while at work, a mask will help to protect you and those around you.
“Now is the time for all of us to work together – while staying apart – to slow the spread of COVID-19, and always keeping our groups small and using our layers of protection is the best way for us to do that.”
There are now 2,325 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 5,077 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and 10,734 people who tested positive have recovered.
Currently, 77 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 26 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 4,428 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 7,529 in the Fraser Health region, 250 in the Island Health region, 693 in the Interior Health region, 383 in the Northern Health region and 88 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
There have been four new health-care facility outbreaks at Queen’s Park Care Centre, Amenida Seniors Community, Agassiz Seniors Community and Banfield Pavilion 4 West. The outbreaks at Chartwell Carrington House Retirement Residence, Thornebridge Gardens and Point Grey Hospital have been declared over. In total, 19 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and two acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.
There has been one new community outbreak at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre. The outbreak at the FedEx Office at the Kelowna International Airport has been declared over. There also continue to be exposure events around the province. Public alerts and notifications are posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website and on all health authorities’ websites.
BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said in a statement: “I know this latest health order limiting indoor gatherings is difficult for people to hear. The loss of social connection and not being able to be close to our loved ones has been a significant toll of this pandemic.
“We have to remember that this is a serious disease with very dire health consequences for people. The spread of the virus in recent weeks is placing strain on our public health officials as they work to keep up with contact tracing.
“There is no doubt this will be a tough winter. But we must come together as we did in the first wave to keep one another safe. Limiting the spread of the virus is our best chance at getting back on our feet quickly as a province.
“The B.C. Greens will continue to work hard to collaborate with the government and official opposition and to serve our constituents through this crisis. We will continue to bring solutions to the table and to hold the government to account for its promises. I look forward to the final vote count concluding so that all caucuses can be fully operational again.”