UPDATE: Clarifying all Dr. Henry’s new orders and restrictions for B.C. | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Clarifying all Dr. Henry’s new orders and restrictions for B.C.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
November 19, 2020 - 5:20 PM

More than a dozen orders and other restrictions were imposed by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry today, Nov. 19.

They’re in response to record numbers of new COVID-19 cases in recent days, although today’s tally is down by more than 200 to 538.

READ MORE: 538 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.; 1 death

Here are some of the things you can and cannot do as of midnight tonight through to the end of the day on Dec. 7, unless the orders are extended.

SOCIAL INTERACTIONS

People are ordered to have social interactions only with members of their own household, whether that’s inside or outside the home.

For those who live alone, that can mean interacting with one or two outside people who they are close to.

A household means those living in a single dwelling so something like a rental suite is not part of the household.

It’s OK for university students to return home over Christmas but they need to follow the same household rules.

Having social workers, people doing repairs or other such activities are not deemed social gatherings so can continue but all the rules about social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing need to be observed.

SOCIAL GATHERINGS

An existing order defines social gatherings and limits them to less than 50 people.

Such gatherings of any size, indoors or outdoors, are now suspended.

This means, for example, scheduled church services cannot be held because COVID-19 has been transmitted at those events.

But it doesn’t mean places of worship are closed. People can still visit individually or in their household groups.

Other activities that normally happen in those spaces, such as child care, AA or NA meetings can continue as long as all the safety protocols are followed.

Weddings, funerals and baptisms can still be held but limited to 10 people and other social events that might normally accompany such activities are not allowed.

Social events in places like hotels, restaurants or other spaces are banned, although people can still dine out in household groups of no more than six.

MASKS

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is bringing in rules requiring masks to be worn by workers and customers in all public indoor settings and workspaces.

Dr. Henry said the rules are still being worked out but the spread of COVID-19 in these spaces is not between workers and customers but amongst workers who are not observing safety protocols in their workspaces or lunch rooms and before and after work.

More details will come out over the next week.

A worker doesn’t need to wear a mask at their desk alone but has to don a mask if a co-worker is nearby.

The same applies to someone working behind a plexiglass shield.

Customers are required to wear masks unless they are unable to or are under two years of age. The rules being worked out by the Ministry will give business operators more power to enforce those rules.

No medical notes will be required for those who cannot wear a mask but they are encouraged to have retail goods delivered or to shop when there are fewer people around.

Masks are required to be worn by customers at restaurants or bars except when seated at a table.

FACE SHIELDS VS FACE MASKS

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control web site says that face shields are not a substitute for masks because they won't protect you from inhaling other people's droplets or prevent your droplets from spreading to others. If you choose to wear a face shield, wear one that wraps around the sides of the face and below the chin. You will still have to stay two metres away from others and practice good hand hygiene.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Residents are encouraged to only travel for essential purposes. This is not an order, just a recommendation.

That means people are encouraged to stay within their own regions.

Dr. Henry did mention that it’s OK to travel from Penticton to Summerland but advised against travelling from Victoria to Tofino.

Skiers are encouraged to visit local ski hills rather than travel, for example, to Whistler from the Interior.

Travelling to another community to work is considered essential travel.

SPORTS

Indoor and outdoor sports activities are allowed but there will not be any spectators.

Leagues can compete only within their own region, as defined by those leagues. There will be no interregional travel allowed.

Few details were given on how extensive travel can be but a news release said that a team from Abbotsford cannot attend a training session in Chilliwack.

There is an exemption for high performance athletes.

These restrictions are covered by an order so are mandatory.

It’s recommended that out-of-province people travelling for recreation in B.C. stay home and that B.C. residents don’t travel outside their communities, let alone their province.

High intensity activities in gyms have been banned.

Dr. Henry specifically pointed to indoor spin classes, interval training and hot yoga.

Others activities will be monitored and closed if they contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

WORKING FROM HOME

Businesses that had employees work remotely but are now bringing them back into the workplace are asked to cancel those plans and have people work from home as much as possible, at least until the new year.

BUSINESS SAFETY PLANS

All businesses are encouraged to revisit their safety plans and step up enforcement.

Inspections will be increased and those failing to comply will be fined and/or closed.

For more information on the provincewide COVID-19 restrictions, check out the B.C. government's web page on the subject here.

If you have questions about all these new rules and regulations, please ask them in the comments section below and we'll do our best to find answers.

 - This story was updated Nov. 23, 2020 at 8:20 a.m. to add information about face shields.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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