New orders expected as B.C. health officials prepare to update the situation with COVID-19

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced wide-ranging new rules for controlling the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masks in indoor public and retail spaces, and restricting social gatherings to household members only for everyone across B.C.

Henry said Thursday that she is extending an earlier order limiting social gatherings in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions until Dec. 7 and making it apply provincewide.

She’s also asked Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to implement a requirement for workers and members of the public to wear masks in all retail environments and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.

High-risk indoor group fitness activities, including high intensity interval training, hot yoga and spin classes will be suspended as well.

Other measures announced Thursday include:

  • All community and social events suspended for the next two weeks, even if they’re under 50 people.
  • In-person faith services suspended.
  • No spectators allowed at any indoor or outdoor sport, and no travelling outside the local community for sports.
  • Businesses are being asked to suspend any returns to the office for employees who’ve been working at home.
  • They’re also being told to re-evaluate whether safety plans are appropriate and being followed.
  • Inspections of businesses and enforcement of public health orders are being stepped up.
  • Officials are asking everyone not to travel outside their communities for non-essential reasons and asking people from other provinces to postpone their trips here.

More to come.

Earlier story below:

Provincial health officials will provide an update on B.C.’s latest COVID-19 numbers at 3 p.m. PT.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is expected to announce new restrictions and extend those currently in effect in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.

People who live in those regions are currently subject to strict restrictions that include a prohibition on socializing with anyone outside of their household. Non-essential travel in those health regions is currently restricted.

The new orders were implemented for a two-week period on Nov. 7 in a bid to curb B.C.’s rapidly climbing case count. 

Cases in the province have continued to climb. On Wednesday, B.C. announced a record high 762 new cases of COVID-19. Ten more people died of the virus.

Premier John Horgan said on Tuesday that travel restrictions in southwest B.C. would likely be extended and called on the federal government to restrict all non-essential travel between provinces.

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