UPDATE: B.C. COVID-19 rules on socializing and masks extended to end of the month | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: B.C. COVID-19 rules on socializing and masks extended to end of the month

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
February 05, 2021 - 11:34 AM

Rules against socializing outside your household and requiring masks in all public places will continue until at least the end of the month.

That announcement was made today, Feb. 5, by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and comes despite the fact the rate of infection is declining throughout the province.

“We need to protect the progress we have made since the start of this year and not squander our success,” Dr. Henry said.

She hopes the restrictions can be eased in March, or even earlier, but is worried about possible “super-spreader” events if people let down their guard and start socializing in larger groups during events like Super Bowl this Sunday or during the Family Day long weekend, Feb. 15.

She’s also concerned about the possible rapid spread of the disease because of variants that have now been detected in 28 B.C. residents.

Dr. Henry would like to start easing some the restrictions before March but said she needs time to monitor the possible impact of the variants.

Any easing will be just that, a slow relaxation of restrictions.

"It’s not going to be: ‘Yay, we’re back to normal,’” Dr. Henry said. “It’s going to be: Can we slowly and thoughtfully find an increase in those social connections that we all really want and some of the activities that we’ve had to curtail because of these risks of transmission and do that in a safe way in coming weeks?"

But, things could go the other way as well.

“If we start to see one of these variants take off, then all bets are off and we may need to actually increase some of the restrictions we have in place," she said.

The variants can only be detected through genome sequencing, which is a review of COVID's DNA structure. So far, only 4,500 COVID positive test samples have been checked in that way. Health authorities are ramping up efforts so that, soon, all positive tests can be checked for variants.

If all goes well, socialization can increase to a “safe six” group of family or friends outside the current restrictions against socializing with anyone other than those living in your household.

Things like youth sports may be able to resume in March.

The orders are the same as those first imposed in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions on Nov. 7, expanded to the rest of the province on Nov. 19, then extended today.

READ MORE: COVID-19 restrictions extended to Feb. 5 in B.C. to 'hold the line'

- This story was updated at 12:04 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2021 to add comments about testing for variants and possible easing of restrictions.


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