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New B.C. pandemic measures include mandatory masks, restrictions on social gatherings

Friday, November 20, 2020 @ 9:57 AM | By Ian Burns

British Columbia has brought in wide-ranging new measures to control the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masks for indoor public spaces and restricting social gatherings to household members only.

Provincial health officer (PHO) Bonnie Henry issued the new order Nov. 19. She said the virus “never rests” and trends that started in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions are now evident throughout the province.

“While we may feel frustrated or disheartened, we must remember that we flattened our curve before, and we can again,” she said. “The coming weeks will be the most difficult in our pandemic, but hope is on the horizon.”

Masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces, with limited exceptions for those who cannot put on or remove a mask themselves. Social gatherings at residences with anyone other than those who reside there are restricted. People who live alone cannot host gatherings but can continue to see one or two of the same members of their core pandemic “bubble” at home.

“We can protect the ones we love and keep our hospitals, schools and workplaces open if we remain focused on reducing our in-person interactions for now,” said Henry.

Most indoor or outdoor events, including religious, cultural or community events, are restricted, with the exception of baptisms, funerals and weddings. These may proceed with up to 10 people including an officiant if a COVID-19 safety plan is in place. There are to be no associated receptions of any kind in any venue.

Businesses, recreation centres or other venues that organize or operate indoor group spin classes, hot yoga and high-intensity interval training will stop for the fall and winter. Sports activities can continue, but there is to be no travel outside of communities for games or competitions, and no spectators are allowed. Office-based employers are being advised to temporarily suspend their efforts to safely get employees back to their workplace and support work-from-home options wherever possible.

The restrictions remain in effect until Dec. 7 at midnight. There are 6,929 active cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, and 321 people have died as a result of the virus.

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