New health measures to contain COVID-19 outbreak in Central Okanagan

INTERIOR Health (IH) has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the central Okanagan due to significant increases in COVID-19 transmission, and is announcing measures to contain the outbreak.

* Effective Wednesday night at midnight, Interior Health is placing a regional mandatory mask order for all public indoor spaces in the central Okanagan communities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Kelowna and Lake Country. The order applies to individuals older than 12 years of age.

* People from outside the central Okanagan are discouraged from non-essential travel to the area for the duration of the outbreak unless they are fully vaccinated (7 days after their second dose).

* There will be continued enforcement of the Province’s Step 3 Restart Plan. When businesses in the central Okanagan experience three or more COVID-19 cases, IH medical health officers will have the option to follow up and issue a closure order. Interior Health will be working with its municipal partners, WorkSafe BC and Interior Health environmental public health officers to support businesses in the central Okanagan maintain compliance with mandatory safety measures.

* As a reminder, Step 3 includes a return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings; however, in the central Okanagan people should be more cautious:

o Organize events outdoors rather than indoors, if possible.

o Maintain physical distancing, hand cleaning, and stay home if you are sick.

o Continue to set a maximum capacity for indoor organized gatherings at 50 people or up to 50 per cent of a venue’s total capacity.

o Events scheduled during this outbreak in the central Okanagan should have a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

* Implementing a low threshold for testing: Testing is available to anyone who is experiencing symptoms, and Interior Health will also conduct asymptomatic testing in areas with COVID-19 exposures.

* Increased access to COVID-19 vaccines: Additional pop-up and mobile clinics in downtown Kelowna and throughout the central Okanagan will make it easier than ever to get vaccinated so people can protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. The interval between first and second doses will be decreased to 28 days for people who reside in the central Okanagan.

The measures will remain in place for at least 14 days and until the region experiences lower cases and higher vaccination rates.

More than 95 per cent of recent cases in the central Okanagan are among people who are not fully-immunized against COVID-19. This is an important reminder that immunization is our most effective prevention against COVID-19.