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Officials say to avoid Christmas travel in B.C. this year due to COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: British Columbians urged to avoid Christmas travel' Coronavirus: British Columbians urged to avoid Christmas travel
Health officials are urging people in B.C. to stay home for the holidays and avoid Christmas travel to curb the spread of COVID-19. Catherine Urquhart reports – Nov 17, 2020

Anyone in B.C. who wants to travel this Christmas is being asked to stay close to home instead.

On Monday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said due to COVID-19, this is not the year for anyone to head out of town for the holidays.

The provincial health order on non-essential travel in the Lower Mainland is currently set to expire on Nov. 23, although it could be extended.

Dix said that even if that is lifted soon, British Columbians should still stay home.

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B.C. health officials report 1959 new cases of COVID-19 over three day period, 9 additional deaths – Nov 16, 2020

“The current orders around travel are in place for two weeks, but this period is not a time when we should be doing non-essential travel to other provinces, or jurisdictions, or around B.C., this is the time to stay close,” Dix said Monday.

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“It’s not every Christmas, it’s not every year, not every ski trip, just this year, right now.”

Interior Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer is giving residents in the Interior similar advice.

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Dr. Albert de Villiers said while it’s hard to know what COVID-19 conditions will look like a month from now, at this point he’s suggesting those with family in the Lower Mainland plan not to visit their relatives over the holidays.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Will B.C. families be allowed to celebrate Christmas together this year?' Coronavirus: Will B.C. families be allowed to celebrate Christmas together this year?
Coronavirus: Will B.C. families be allowed to celebrate Christmas together this year? – Nov 17, 2020

“I know it’s difficult. We know it’s not an easy thing to do but maybe try to plan to do a virtual get-together…so that you don’t have to actually go there,” he said.

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In general, de Villiers is telling Interior residents not to do any recreational travel, including to the prairie provinces or the United States.

B.C. health officials reported 1,959 new cases of the coronavirus over three days and nine new deaths on Monday.

There were 654 cases from Friday to Saturday, while 659 cases were reported from Saturday to Sunday, and 646 from Sunday to Monday. All three daily totals topped the previous daily high of 617, which was reported on Friday.

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Will a mandatory mask policy help alleviate abuse in B.C. businesses? – Nov 16, 2020

—With files from Jon Azpiri