Province issues new public health orders for Lower Mainland regions

As B.C. reports another 567 new cases of COVID-19, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued new public health orders restricting activity in health regions in the Lower Mainland.

The new restrictions concern social gatherings, travel, indoor group physical activities and workplace safety and only apply to the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, with the exception of the central coast and Bella Coola valley.

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The orders are also imposed only for a limited two-week period, from 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, to Monday, Nov. 23, at noon.

Social gatherings

For social gatherings, Henry has ordered that none are to occur with anyone outside a person's immediate household.

Funerals and weddings may proceed, but only with immediate household members, and no receptions can be held, inside or outside homes or at any other venues.

Travel

Henry has strongly recommending that travel into and out of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions be limited to essential travel only, and that those from outside these regions should not visit, and travel through only if necessary.

Additionally, all sports-related travel to and from the affected regions is ordered not to proceed.

Group physical activities

"This, unfortunately, is an area where we have seen spread in multiple different settings," Henry said.

Henry has prohibited indoor group physical activities such as spin classes, dance classes and other activities as a result.

Additionally, indoor sports where there can be no physical distancing, have been suspended.

Henry said this order does not apply to school curriculum-related programs.

Workplaces

Henry said all businesses and worksites must conduct in-person COVID-19 screenings for all employees on-site.

They also must ensure all workers and customers ensure they are physical distancing and wearing masks if appropriate.

Henry also said businesses will be shut down if they cannot maintain their required safety plans.

Those who are able to should also be working from home, Henry said.

WorkSafeBC and bylaws officers will also be conducting more frequent inspections at businesses in the affected areas, and Henry said workers must know their place of employment's plans and ensure they are adhering to them.

Finally, Henry also ordered that all party buses and group limousine services, or any "perimeter-seating vehicles" shut down until further notice, effective immediately.

A message for those in other regions

Health Minister Adrian Dix had a message for those outside the affected regions, warning that they must follow the province's existing public health orders in order to avoid a similar jump in cases.

"The virus does not follow geographical boundaries. It does not care about how nice we are. It lives to transmit, and we must, in this time, do everything we can to avoid this," Dix said.

Dix noted Saturday's continued high increase in cases in the Interior Health region and previous outbreaks on Vancouver Island.

"This is a worldwide pandemic and we need to address it everywhere in British Columbia. We must fight COVID-19 and we must fight it harder than ever before," he said.

Cases continue

Along with the new orders, Henry also delivered an update on B.C.'s case count.

Of the 567 new cases announced on Saturday, 22 are in the Interior Health region.

Elsewhere, there were 122 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 411 in Fraser Health, three in Vancouver Island Health and nine in Northern Health.

There are more than 100 people in hospital, with 33 of those in critical care.

One further death was also reported, bringing the province's total to 276.

Additional health-care facility outbreaks also contributed to today's new orders. The province now has 37 active health-care facility outbreaks, with 33 of those at long-term care homes and four at acute care centres.

The number of those recovered from COVID-19 was not provided on Saturday. The province's total case count stands at 17,716.

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