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B.C. marks sixth consecutive day with no COVID-19 deaths, loosens restaurant rules

Click to play video 'B.C. restaurants get slight reprieve from restrictive capacity restrictions' B.C. restaurants get slight reprieve from restrictive capacity restrictions
B.C. restaurants get slight reprieve from restrictive capacity restrictions

British Columbia has now gone six consecutive days without a death from COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement Thursday, as she confirmed 14 new cases of the novel coronavirus.

The province has now reported 2,694 cases in total, close to 87 per cent of whom have recovered. The death toll sits at 167.

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Of the remaining 183 active cases, 13 patients remain in hospital. Five of them are in intensive care.

Despite the progress, Health Minister Adrian Dix warned that British Columbians must continue to treat the pandemic seriously.

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“This is a record week for new cases of COVID-19 in the world, just to put it in context,” said Dix, noting India, Brazil and nearby Oregon had all recorded new case records since the start of June.

“In other words, COVID-19 is with us and we have to continue to work together.”

Click to play video 'Dr. Bonnie Henry’s emotional response to B.C.’s record-breaking drug overdose numbers in May' Dr. Bonnie Henry’s emotional response to B.C.’s record-breaking drug overdose numbers in May
Dr. Bonnie Henry’s emotional response to B.C.’s record-breaking drug overdose numbers in May

Restaurant rules relaxed

As of Thursday, restaurants will no longer be limited to 50 per cent capacity, said Henry.

Individual restaurants, in consultation with WorkSafeBC and public health officials, will now be able to submit a site-specific plan outlining a safe capacity, including their patios.

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Physical distancing rules or the use of barriers will still apply.

B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association president Ian Tostenson called the change a potential lifeline for struggling businesses.

“They can’t operate (profitably) unless they’re at 75 per cent capacity. I don’t think this will get us to 75 per cent but it will allow us something,” he said.

“You know an announcement like this is a celebration. It’s like the most amazing thing – they’re so hopeful of all the little changes that we took for granted three months ago.”

With files from Srushti Gangdev