A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Events, gatherings banned through Christmas, New Year’s in B.C. with no COVID reprieve in sight

Two-thirds of the new 2,020 cases are in Fraser Health

There will be few holiday events this year as B.C.’s top doctor extended COVID-19 restrictions on events and gatherings through the new year on Monday (Dec. 7).

At the same briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that 2,020 British Columbians had been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the weekend, while 35 people had died due to the virus.

By day, there were 647 cases reported Saturday, 726 cases Sunday and 647 cases Monday, with 10 epi-linked cases. The weekend’s deaths bring the total COVID-19 death toll in B.C. to 527.

By region, the weekend’s cases break down to 1,362 in Fraser Health, 304 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 203 in Interior Health, 45 in Island Health and 106 in Northern Health.

There are 9,380 active cases of COVID-19 following the weekend. Currently, there are 349 people in hospital, of whom 77 are in critical care or ICU.

Henry said there were six new health-care facility outbreaks, with 1,073 long-term care residents and 605 employees infected with the virus. There was also a community outbreak at a mink farm in the Fraser Valley, something that Henry said was very concerning to health officials as COVID-19 can pass back-and-forth between minks and humans.

Henry said that while the morning’s news of a Pfizer vaccine coming this month is heartening, the virus is still running rampant through the province and “straining our system.” Health officials are expected to reveal plans for B.C.’s share of the 249,000 vaccine doses later this week.

“We are not yet through this storm,” Henry said, but added that “the measures… are starting to work.”

Recent COVID-19 measures, which prohibit gatherings and events as well as meeting up with people outside of your immediate household, are now extended until midnight on Jan. 8. However, some drive-through, drive-in and drop-off events with COVID safety plans will now be allowed with up to 50 people who must stay inside their vehicles. Schools will remain open until their usual holiday break time.

The extended measures mean there will be no multi-household Christmas dinners, Hanukkah celebrations or New Year’s Eve gatherings. People who live alone may form a bubble with another unit, but all others are being asked to stick to their immediate household.

“This year, ‘home for the holidays’ means staying home for the holidays,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

On the fitness front, spin classes, hot yoga and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are suspended indefinitely. Other activities, such as gymnastics, dance studios, martial arts, yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning and cheerleading are on pause until new guidance can be developed. Regular gyms and individual training may stay open.

For youth, activities like educational programs, music, art, dance, drama, recreational programs outdoor fitness and social activities may continue to operate with a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

All adult indoor and outdoor team sports also remain banned, while youth sports have return to phase two of ViaSport’s Return to Sport guidelines.

“This is what we need to do for each other. This is a challenging time, I know that,” Henry said.

READ MORE: Race-based data needed to make sound COVID vaccine, policy decisions: B.C. prof

READ MORE: Christmas in a pandemic: Most Canadians plan to stay closer to home, poll suggests

READ MORE: Canada to get 249,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine in December, Trudeau says

READ MORE: All adult dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

READ MORE: Outdoor and indoor adult team sports banned as B.C. battles surge in COVID cases


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The avalanche came down on the highway sometime Sunday evening (Feb. 21) (Dawson photo)
Road to Bella Coola wharf reopens after large avalanche

The road was closed after a large avalanche covered a significant portion of the highway

Jenni Mueller lives near the wharf on the other side of the avalanche. She took this photo and thinks the avalanche happened around 8 p.m. last night (February 21). (Jenni Mueller photo)
Avalanche closes road to wharf at Bella Coola

A day and night of heavy rain resulted in avalanches across the region

Fisheries and Oceans Canada released it's 2021 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan Feb. 19. (File photo)
Northern herring opportunities kept to a minimum

2021 management plan caps Prince Rupert fishery at 5 per cent

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read