Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Canadian Press)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Canadian Press)

Hope now included in new COVID-19 orders on gatherings, sports and more

Hope was announced as exempt from the orders Saturday, by Monday Hope was on the list of communities under the orders

Hope is once again included as one of the communities that needs to adhere to new public health orders in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal regions, after being listed as exempt when the orders were announced Saturday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a range of orders, to come into effect Saturday, Nov. 7, impacting sports, workout facilities, workplaces, travel and social gatherings. Information on the B.C. Government’s website about the orders showed Hope as exempt from these orders Saturday, together with the Central Coast Regional District and Bella Coola Valley. On Monday, Nov. 9, Hope was back on the list of communities needing to adhere to the orders.

The time limited orders, which apply across the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal regions save for Bella Coola and the Central Coast, will be in place over the next two weeks until Monday, Nov. 23 at 12 p.m. “This will give us a chance to stop the transmission, to have a break in that rising transmission rate we are seeing,” Henry said. “This is a time limited order, but this is what we need to do now. We need to stop our social connections, where we unfortunately are seeing our virus spread, and spread to those that we are closest to and that we care most about.”

Read more: BC Government webpage on Nov. 7 to 23 restrictions

Social interactions and gatherings

“There are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household,” Henry said Saturday.

Residents are no longer allowed to have a “safe six” group of friends to gather and interact with. The province is telling residents to not invite friends or family into their household. Funerals and weddings may proceed only with immediate household members.

However, Henry said people who live alone are still allowed to visit people in their social bubble.

“It’s very challenging for those who live alone,” Henry said, adding that people who live alone can have a “very small number of people who are in your bubble” over for a visit.

“It means if you do have one or two people you’re close with that you are considering your family, your bubble, your household, then stick to those people.”

Minister of Health Adrian Dix added that now is the time to reach out to friends and family members via FaceTime or by phone to support them.

The order on gatherings applies to gatherings indoors, outdoors and at restaurants. “Do not gather outdoors, do not gather at restaurants,” the order stated.

Sports and indoor physical activities

Businesses, recreation centres or other organization’s that operate indoor group physical activities are suspended.

The suspension includes spin classes, yoga, group fitness, dance classes and any other group indoor activity that increases the respiratory rate.

Indoor sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained is also suspended, including activities such as boxing, martial arts, hockey, volleyball and basketball.

Suspended group activities can be replaced with individual exercise or practice that allows participants to maintain a safe distance, according to the order.

Indoor group physical activities can only resume after the business has updated its COVID-19 safety plan and receive plan approval from a local medical health officer.

Travel for sports into and out of the region is suspended.

The new order does not apply to physical activities in schools.

Workplaces and restaurants

The new orders mandate all work places to conduct active daily in-person screening of all onsite workers using the COVID-19 symptom check list that is part of every business restart safety plan.

Workplaces must ensure that all workers and customers maintain appropriate physical distancing and wear masks when appropriate.

“Extra care should be taken in small office spaces, break rooms and kitchens,” the order states.

While there isn’t an order mandating people to work from home if possible, Henry made a suggestion that businesses allow employees to work from home if able.

“Consider going back to actively supporting people working from home in certain businesses, if possible,” Henry said.

In restaurants, Henry said the restrictions in place for no more than six people at a table, no “table hopping”, wearing a mask, and keeping a safe distance remain in place.

Henry said that restaurants that have been following the rules have not had transmission events. However, she noted a concern around “slippage of rules” or customers becoming complacent, and offered a “fair warning” to establishments.

“We will be cracking down on those, we know the inspectors know where the restaurants are, we’ve been working with WorkSafe. We will be paying attention, particularly to restaurants, because we know it can become an environment where we have seen transmission,” Henry said.

Travel

Henry recommended that people not travel into or out of the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley for the next two weeks, unless it’s essential travel.

“Right now we are advising, in the strongest terms, that people need to stay in their local community,” Henry said. “Right now, we have to go back to what we were doing in March, April and May where it was essential travel only.”

Schools and day-cares

No new orders were placed on schools or day-cares.

“Schools are one of the things we want to protect because we know how important it is for teachers, for students, for families to have schools operating,” she said.

“What happens in schools reflects what’s happening in our community, that’s why the focus has been on reducing transmission in our communities. What we have not seen is a lot of transmission events in schools. Schools are not amplifying the virus.”

As of Sunday morning, Fraser Health listed 43 schools in the region where a recent COVID-19 exposure has taken place.

Henry said the order on social gatherings does not apply to in-home day-cares.

Churches

No new restrictions or orders were placed on churches or places of worship. The order on social gatherings does not apply to places of religion.

“Those are not social gatherings. The 50-person limit, with physical distancing and all of the important restrictions that have been in place around churches and other religious centres, remain in place,” Henry said.

Party-buses and limousines

The province said party-buses and group limousines must stop operating, immediately. Resuming operations is at the discretion of Henry and may be extended beyond Nov. 23 at 12 p.m.

The new orders and recommendations were made after the province experienced a significant spike in COVID-19 cases.

After weeks of reporting cases in the 100 to 200 mark, cases spiked to 589 cases on Friday and 567 new cases on Saturday.

Of the new cases reported Saturday, 411 were in Fraser Health region, and 122 cases were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. More than 100 people are in hospital with more than 30 in critical care.

The Hope Standard has requested more information about why Hope was first designated exempt, then included under the orders, from the Ministry of Health. This story will be updated when we hear back. For details on the orders see www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/lower-mainland.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com


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