People wearing protective face masks play an air hockey game at Central City Fun Park on their opening weekend, in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, June 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

People wearing protective face masks play an air hockey game at Central City Fun Park on their opening weekend, in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, June 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

6 things you need to know about B.C.’s latest COVID-19 health orders

Mandatory masks, bans on social gatherings and more to take effect overnight Friday

B.C. officials have rolled out a number of new orders in their latest attempt to curb the rising number of new COVID-19 cases as the province tides the waters of the pandemic’s second wave.

“As we approach the darkest days of this year, we know there is light at the end of the tunnel,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Thursday (Nov. 19).

She urged British Columbians to follow the rules ahead of the holidays but didn’t rule out that the latest orders could be extended beyond their current Dec. 7 deadline if daily case counts don’t decrease enough.

READ MORE: 538 new infections, 1 death recorded as B.C. struggles with 50+ COVID outbreaks

Here’s a look at the biggest changes, which took effect at midnight Thursday.

1. Mandatory mask mandate

Masks are now required in public indoor and retail spaces. Henry asked the Public Safety Ministry to implement the order under the ongoing state of emergency to make face coverings mandatory. The mandate would exclude those who cannot wear masks due to a medical issue or disability, as well as children under the age of two.

The mask policy is not in effect in B.C. schools.

2. No events or social gatherings with anyone outside of your household

All indoor and outdoor community and social events have been suspended for the next two weeks. This includes events that include fewer than 50 people – the previous threshold for social gatherings – with the only exceptions being funerals, weddings and baptisms so long as fewer than 10 people attend without a reception.

The order already in place in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions on social gatherings has also been expanded B.C.-wide. Moving forward British Columbians should restrict their socializing to immediate household members. Those who live alone are being encouraged to stick to one or two close friends at most.

3. Non-essential travel not recommended

If British Columbians don’t have to travel for essential reasons, they are being asked to stay within their community.

“If you live in Penticton, you can go to Summerland. If you live in Victoria, though, and you want to go to Tofino, then not such a good idea right now,” Henry explained. “If you want to go to a store in another community, then plan ahead and go as infrequently as possible.”

Those who are travelling to B.C. from other provinces are also being asked to keep their contact to immediate household members only.

4. Some gym classes suspended until further notice

Some gym classes have been suspended until further notice. While a similar order has been in place in the Fraser Health region for a week, the new order impacts the entire province, specifically for high-intensity interval training, hot yoga and spin classes.

Meanwhile, WorkSafeBC will be increasing its inspections of gyms and other businesses to ensure adequate health protocols are being followed.

5. No spectators allowed at sports games, no travel outside your community

Whether indoors or outdoors, spectators will have to stay home when it comes to recreational sports. Travel outside of an athlete’s community to another in order to play a sport is also prohibited for two weeks.

“If you are in doubt, postpone it to a time when we have better management of the transmissions that we’re seeing in our communities right now,” Henry said.

“You can play the games within your own region only, and there’s no travel between different areas. That is where we’re seeing the risk. The risk is people car-pooling together, having to stay overnight.”

The order is not applicable for high-performance athletes if they have been training prior to Thursday.

6. Faith services suspended

All in-person faith services will be put on hold until Dec. 7. This doesn’t mean that people cannot visit churches or temples, Henry said, so long as health safety protocols are in place.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s Marissa Rode has signed with the University of Regina Cougars women’s basketball team. (Instagram)
Abbotsford’s Marissa Rode signs with Regina Cougars

Grade 12 Yale Secondary student joining Saskatchewan school’s basketball program

The provincial government has announced almost 400 new childcare spaces for the Fraser Valley, including 143 in Abbotsford. (Thinkstock photo)
Abbotsford to get 143-space new childcare centre at Highstreet

Province announces almost 400 new spaces for the Fraser Valley

A flipped truck in the roundabout on Clearbrook Road at Highway 1 has resulted in a road closure for several hours on Wednesday (March 3). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Flipped semi in Abbotsford closes portion of Clearbrook Road

Closure starting Wednesday morning is expected to last for several hours

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit Agassiz and beyond

The first in a three part series on dairy farming, palm oil and Canadian consumers

Haven Vivero took first place in the monthly Monologue Slam Canada contest.
Former Abbotsford boy takes top spot in monologue competition

Haven Vivero, now living in Maple Ridge, started acting when he was six

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
Poster popping up on Vancouver Island falsely claims COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
1 dead, 2 injured in potentially alcohol-fueled collision in North Vancouver

The collision occurred just after 11 p.m. on March 2 on Low Level Road

Most Read