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New vacation rental rules in B.C., as active COVID-19 cases top 300

Province announces new restrictions as active COVID-19 cases grow
Province announces new restrictions as active COVID-19 cases grow

The number of active COVID-19 cases in British Columbia topped 300 on Thursday, as the province reported another 30 new diagnoses.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported another death, bringing the total number of fatalities in B.C. to 190.

Henry said people need to get serious about limiting their social interactions as cases continue to climb.

B.C. premier has a message for young people who aren’t observing physical-distancing rules
B.C. premier has a message for young people who aren’t observing physical-distancing rules

“For you and those you care for, to stay safe, we need you to keep your groups small,” said Henry, referring to the six-person group limit at restaurants as a good guideline.

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“Only spend time with those you are closest to, those you know, and use your layers of protection when you are around others.”

Vacation rental capacity limits

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She also announced a new public health order to limit the number of visitors to vacation rental properties and houseboats.

Those restrictions come as B.C. holidaymakers flock to the Interior. That region is seeing a major uptick in new virus cases, following a series of exposures at private parties at the start of the month.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces new order for B.C. rental properties
Dr. Bonnie Henry announces new order for B.C. rental properties

“We’ve seen the challenge, people get together and then they have parties, and they invite people over,” said Henry.

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“It will be restrictions on the number of people based on the size of the houseboat or the boat or the room, but also restrictions on visitors that will be in those rental properties as well.”

New orders for houseboats and rental properties will fall on owners
New orders for houseboats and rental properties will fall on owners

Sticking with the soft touch

Both Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix resisted calls on Thursday to crack down on people flouting physical distancing rules or resisting masks — opting to stick with B.C.’s so-far successful strategy of education and advice.

One reporter asked Henry if scenes like a widely criticized large party on Vancouver’s Third Beach were pushing her towards sending staff with bullhorns to break up gatherings.

“That’s never been my style,” said Henry.

“Municipalities, local health authorities … are looking at how we can make it easier for people to do what we need them to do.

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“That’s the way we’ve always done things, making the right decision the easiest decision.”

B.C. premier concerned about COVID-19 caseload in Alberta, Washington state
B.C. premier concerned about COVID-19 caseload in Alberta, Washington state

Dix said he believes the vast majority of British Columbians are following health officials’ advice, but that cases of people breaking the rules tend to be more visible because they are public.

“But we’re seeing an uptick in cases, and we need to recommit ourselves now,” he said. “We’re going to be dealing with this for months.”

Henry added that B.C. has no plans to make wearing a mask mandatory in public places, but wouldn’t rule it out if the province was to see a surge in new community transmission.

B.C. reports 30 new cases of COVID-19, one additional death
B.C. reports 30 new cases of COVID-19, one additional death

“This is an option we can move to,” she said, “but it is not something I’m considering at this point.”

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B.C. has now reported 3,392 cases in total, 22 of which are epi-linked. Three hundred and four of those cases are active, while 2,898 have recovered.

There were 16 people in hospital as of Thursday, with three of them in critical care.