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COVID gathering rules eased for Interior Health as north gets further restrictions

Restaurants returning to 100% capacity with vaccine card in IH, bars close in NH
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation from the Vancouver cabinet offices, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

Additional COVID-19 restaurant and gathering capacity restrictions are being lifted for Interior Health as of Dec. 1, while bars and nightclubs are being closed in Northern Health on the same day.

“With the decrease in transmission and the levelling off of the hospitalizations and the strains in our communities, the additional measures in place in Interior Health will be repealed as of tonight,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Tuesday, Nov. 30. “The current restrictions that are in place, both the mask mandates and gathering and events orders that are in the rest of the province will apply to Interior Health. So that means you can have 100 per cent capacity when the vaccine card is being used, for example.”

Henry said the pressure on hospitals and continued high infection rate makes it necessary to expand the current restrictions to the entire region from Quesnel north. The restrictions had been in place only as far west as Kitwanga on Highway 16, but now Prince Rupert and other western communities are affected.

The public health order is being updated to widen the region and make it effective until Jan. 31, 2022.

“Given the situation in the north, there are still no in-person worship services being allowed at this time, although drive-in services will be permitted,” Henry said. “Social gatherings at private residences will be for up to 10 people inside, or 25 people outside, if people are fully vaccinated.

“Outdoor events with more than 25 people will have a 50 per cent capacity with use of the B.C. vaccine card, and indoor seated events with greater than 10 people will have a 50 per cent capacity limit. And that includes funerals, weddings, sporting events, theatre, arts and performance events.”

Liquor service in northern restaurants will also be cut off as of 10 p.m.

Restrictions in the Eastern Fraser Valley are being kept in place, as the region deals with flooding and highway closures.

“The restrictions in the Fraser East region will remain the same,” Henry said. “We know that there are many things that people in Fraser East are dealing with right now.”

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