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Northern B.C. COVID restrictions tightened again amid lagging vaccination rates

Click to play video: 'Four week ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions announced for much of northern B.C.' Four week ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions announced for much of northern B.C.
As of midnight, enhanced "circuit breaker" COVID-19 restrictions are being put in place across much of northern B.C. as cases of the disease continue to surge. Richard Zussman reports – Oct 14, 2021

Pubs and nightclubs could be closed early, house parties limited and religious gatherings moved back to virtual in an attempt to manage COVID-19 cases in Northern B.C.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlined the new measures for the Northern Health region on Thursday. The communities of Kitimat, Terrace, Haida Gwaii, Stikine, Nisg̱a’a, Telegraph, and Prince Rupert are exempt from the new orders due to high levels of immunization.

Click to play video: 'New COVID-19 rules announced Thursday for B.C.’s northern region' New COVID-19 rules announced Thursday for B.C.’s northern region
New COVID-19 rules announced Thursday for B.C.’s northern region – Oct 14, 2021

As part of the new measures, proof of full immunization will be required for any activity inside or outside, Henry said.

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All indoor and outdoor organized events will require a safety plan, and everyone is to wear masks and show proof of full immunization with their vaccine card.

The new restrictions include stopping all liquor sales after 10 p.m.

Pubs and nightclubs can remain open if they have food service, however, establishments with no food service will now be closed.

Restaurants can continue indoor dining with proof of vaccination.

Click to play video: 'Situation in northern B.C. expected to be addressed at COVID-19 briefing' Situation in northern B.C. expected to be addressed at COVID-19 briefing
Situation in northern B.C. expected to be addressed at COVID-19 briefing – Oct 14, 2021

 

Previously announced regional restrictions in Northern Health will also remain in place.

This includes restricting personal indoor gatherings to one additional family or five guests.

Personal gatherings outside of the home are restricted to up to a maximum of 50 people.

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All indoor fitness classes and gym facilities can proceed at normal capacity with proof of immunization against COVID-19.

Sporting events will continue at 50 per cent capacity but a vaccine card must be used and masks will be required.

Click to play video: '55 ICU patients have now been transferred out of Northern Health as COVID crisis worsens' 55 ICU patients have now been transferred out of Northern Health as COVID crisis worsens
55 ICU patients have now been transferred out of Northern Health as COVID crisis worsens – Oct 12, 2021

As of Wednesday, there were 87 people in Northern Health in hospital with ongoing COVID-19 symptoms. There are 19 people in ICU in the region with COVID symptoms.

On Thursday, the province announced 58 people have been transferred from Northern Health ICU to Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

“All of them, very ill,” B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

“We are doing everything we can to support the north and we will continue doing that.”

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One person in their 20s also died from COVID-19 in the region, Henry said Thursday.

“We need to take additional actions,” she said.

Read more: 55 ICU patients transferred out of northern B.C. as situation remains ‘extremely serious’: Dix

Vaccination rates in Northern Health continue to lag behind other regions in the province. The region has struggled to keep up with COVID-19 testing due to high demand.

“The time for coddling and excuses is over,” Dawson Creek City Councillor Jerimy Earl tweeted on Thursday.

“The sound of an airplane leaving our airport has become a source of dread for many, as it symbolizes another citizen who may not be coming home. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

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