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B.C. tightens bars and nightclubs as new coronavirus cases top 30 again

Where are the latest cases of COVID-19 popping up in B.C.
Where are the latest cases of COVID-19 popping up in B.C.

British Columbia health officials announced 34 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, in an unscheduled news conference called amidst a spike in cases.

It’s the fourth time in five days that 30 or more cases have been reported in 24 hours.

B.C. reports 34 cases of COVID-19 at unscheduled press briefing
B.C. reports 34 cases of COVID-19 at unscheduled press briefing

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she was amending her public health order on bars and nightclubs in response.

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“We are not going to go back to things we had to do earlier this year, but in order to keep going forward, we need to go back to safe social interactions,” said Henry.

Under the new rules, all patrons must be seated at a designated seat. Further, there can be no liquor self-service, no dance floors, and establishments must take new steps to reduce lineups and choke points.

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Henry also called on restaurant patrons not to try and skirt the rules for dine-in service, including a maximum group size of six people and a ban on moving between tables.

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There were no new deaths reported, but the number of active cases climbed by 19 to 285.

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About 1,000 British Columbians self-isolating

There were no new community outbreaks Wednesday, but Henry said the province was now tracking 70 cases related to recent exposures in Kelowna.

Henry said as a result of the recent exposures, there were about 1,000 people across the province who are now self-isolating.

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B.C.’s top doctor on challenge of finding people through contact tracing in a timely way

“As we all know, the B.C. COVID-19 curve is trending in a direction we do not want to go, and that is upwards,” said Henry.

“We all need to take a step back and look at the things we need to do to bend our curve back down.”

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Henry said she was in discussion with Interior Health about potential special restrictions for that region, given the surging number of cases.

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Henry said during the most severe pandemic restrictions, contact tracers had previously only needed to track down three to four people linked to every case of the virus. They’re now having to track down 20 to 30 contacts.

“We’ve been in discussions about numbers of people in gatherings, for example, and it may be prudent given that it’s an area people are going to travel,” said Henry.

“We’ve had people in groups that are larger than are manageable, and it’s put a strain on us in public health, being able to contact people quickly, and that has led to increased transmission chains.”

New COVID-19 rules at B.C. bars and nightclubs impact entertainment events
New COVID-19 rules at B.C. bars and nightclubs impact entertainment events

B.C. has now recorded a total of 3,362 cases of COVID-19, 21 of which are epi-linked.

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Seventeen patients are in hospital with the virus, with three of them in critical care.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said the new restrictions were on bars and restaurants. In fact, it applies to bars and nightclubs.