The new restrictions are slated to remain in place until Jan. 31, 2022 unless renewed by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“We know, we see the trajectory in countries around the world and we’re not going to be an exception to that. We will see rapidly rising cases over the next few weeks and we need to take additional measures to slow that down so we don’t overwhelm the hospital system,” Henry said in announcing the restrictions.
“One of the things we also know is that if you are not yet vaccinated, if you do not have that protection that vaccination gives, this virus is spreading and more and more people are infected, you are at risk. Now is the time to get vaccinated.”
Under the new restrictions, British Columbians will once again be limited in the number of visitors in private homes, though the measures are less strict than last holiday season. Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 visitors or one other household — if everyone is vaccinated.
Event venues with more than 1,000 attendees will be limited to half-capacity.
All sports tournaments are being cancelled. All New Year’s Eve organized gatherings and events are restricted to seated-only events, with a ban on mingling or dancing.
Venues that are covered by B.C.’s vaccine passport system will be formally required to scan QR codes, rather than visually inspecting them.
Restaurants can remain open at full capacity, but guests must wear masks when not seated and must not move between tables.
Retail stores must also have COVID-19 safety plans in place, especially with increased holiday shopping.
British Columbia’s daily case rate doubled in the one-week period between Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, while the number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, 135 as of Friday, more than tripled in a 24 hour period.
Henry said there’s no stopping Omicron, but B.C. can “flatten it out” to help prevent a surge in hospitalizations.