The use of masks in public places has been expanded to those ages five to 11.
Also now in effect is mandatory vaccination of all employees and volunteers at long-term care and assisted-living facilities, with that mandate spreading to hospital workers later this month.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the expanded mask mandate at a Tuesday press conference.
“I continue to be amazed at the adaptability and resilience of children across the province,” she said.
Henry also noted that her office and the provincial government are preparing for the expected announcement that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be approved by Health Canada for children ages five to 11.
Currently, vaccines are approved for those ages 12 and older.
Henry said approval could come as soon as early November, noting parents can now re-register their children for vaccination, online at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca.
Meanwhile, rising case counts and lower vaccination rates in the Northern Health Authority has health officials “very concerned,” Henry said, noting communities of lower rates of immunization have higher rates of spread of COVID-19.
She said health officials are pondering further measures to break the chain of transmission, noting they have urged organizers of events, in particular faith leaders, to ensure health guidelines and orders are followed.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the situation in the Northern Health Authority is “extremely serious” and the health-care system there stressed, noting 55 critical-care patients have been moved to hospitals in the Fraser, Vancouver Coastal and Island health regions.
Of those 55 people transferred, Dix said, 43 are COVID-19 patients, of whom 42 are not fully vaccinated.