The B.C. government has announced substantial new restrictions in an attempt to cut down COVID-19 transmission.
The new public health orders will go into effect as of 12 a.m. Tuesday, March 30.
“COVID-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe,” Premier John Horgan said Monday.
“We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer’s orders, combined with our vaccines give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together.”
All food and liquor-serving premises must only provide take-out or delivery service. Dine-in service is prohibited, except for outdoor patios.
People who are dining on patios should do so with their immediate household or core bubble only.
Indoor, adult group fitness activities of any kind are now paused under the orders. Gyms and fitness centres are restricted to individual or one-on-one activities only including one-on-one personal training.
The previously announced class variance for limited indoor worship services has been suspended. This means churches will no longer be able to hold indoor events for Easter.
Outdoor worship services under the current variance may continue.
The province has not introduced any ban on travel but it continues to be limited to essential travel, work or medical reasons only. The province is asking those who have travelled outside their health region and who have developed any signs of illness to stay home from work, school or daycare, and arrange to get tested immediately.
In a new measure, the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort is now closed through to April 19, 2021, to address and prevent community spread related to non-essential travel.
“Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.
“B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities.”
Public health guidance for schools has also been amended to support and encourage students down to Grade 4 to wear masks while at school.
B.C. officials on Monday reported 2,518 new cases of COVID-19 over the past three days, along with six new deaths.
There were 936 cases from Friday to Saturday, the highest single-day figure recorded in the province.
In addition, there were 805 cases were reported from Saturday to Sunday, and 777 from Sunday to Monday.
The seven-day average for new cases in B.C. has risen to 803. A week ago, it stood at 600.
On Monday, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine not be administered to people under the age of 55.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday B.C. will pause the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in those under the age of 55 “for the next few days.”
British Columbia’s original plan was to use AstraZeneca vaccine to focus on clusters, outbreaks and priority groups. A vast majority of those expected to receive the vaccine are under the age of 55.
— With files from Jon Azpiri and The Canadian Press