Rising COVID-19 case counts lead to new restrictions on gatherings in private homes

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a new public health order limiting gatherings in private homes to the immediate residents and six additional people. Henry has also announced that the new expectation— not an order — is that all people in public places should wear masks.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in B.C. continues to rise, with many coming from gatherings in private homes.

As a result, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a new public health order limiting gatherings in private homes to the immediate residents and six additional people.

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In some homes with a large number of family members, Henry said, six additional people may be too many.

She is urging people to adhere to the public health orders and recommendations, noting Fraser Health will be the focus of the new health order, since many of the new cases stemming from private home gatherings are occurring in that health authority.

She said this includes all the seasonal celebrations, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Diwali.

In addition, Henry wants to remind the public that the public gathering limit of 50 comes with a caveat — it requires places to have adequate space to hold those 50 or fewer people.

“Too often in the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing stories of people putting aside the safety plans,” she said.

Henry has also announced that the new expectation is that all people in public places indoors wear mask. The “expectation” is not an order, but Henry is asking businesses to review their COVID-19 protocols. Some businesses in Kamloops and across B.C. require customers to wear masks.

Henry’s new public health order and mask “expectation” come after another record being set in COVID-19 cases.

The province has recorded the most confirmed cases in a weekend count. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 23 to Oct. 25), there have been 817 cases recorded. Thirty-one new cases are in Interior Health, which has had a total of 693 cases so far.

To date, there have been 13,371 confirmed cases in B.C., with 2,325 being active. Of the active cases, 77 people are in hospital (38 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 26 in Fraser Health and one in Interior Health), 26 of whom are in intensive care.

There were three more COVID-19-related deaths on the weekend, all involving residents of long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. To date, there have been 259 people in B.C. who have died from the disease.

Henry said there are 5,077 people being monitored for COVID-19, while 10,734 people have recovered.

There are 21 outbreaks — 19 in long-term care homes and two in hospital acute-care wards. To date, such outbreaks have affected 549 residents and 418 staff members.

Two schools, one in Kelowna and one in Fraser Health, remain closed through the incubation period of COVID-19 after a small number of people in each location contracted the disease. Henry said students from both schools are engaged in remote learning.

Halloween tips from the BC Centre for Disease Control:

The BC Centre for Disease Control is urging all to keep safe this Halloween by following some basic COVID-19 safety tips when celebrating.

“This Halloween will look a little different, but it can still be a safe and fun time as long as you use your COVID-sense,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, physician epidemiologist with the BCCDC.

If you get an invitation for a big group party this year, it’s best to skip that invite — especially since a new public health order, issued on Oct. 26, limits private gatherings to immediate household residents, plus six people from your social bubble.

Instead, opt for a more intimate gathering by keeping it small, local and within your social group.

If you’re dressing up, you can also get extra creative this year by including a non-medical mask or face coverings as part of your costume. Costume masks should not be worn over non-medical masks or face coverings as that may make it difficult to breathe.

“For those who choose to trick-or-treat, follow public health guidelines to ensure you, your family and your community stays safe,” Galanis said. “Try to keep things outdoors if you can and stay in your local neighbourhood, ensuring adequate space between you and others throughout the night. If the porch lights are off, respect the homeowner by staying away.”

The BCCDC has these safety tips for trick-or-treaters and those answering doors:

• Stay bright: Wear bright colours and/or utilize reflective tape, buttons and lights for costumes;

• Clean hands frequently: Wash your hands before and after going trick-or-treating. Keep hand sanitizer with you if eating treats on the go. You don’t need to clean every treat;

• Check candy: Check the treats first and be wary of unsealed or broken wrappers. When in doubt, throw it out;

• Don’t crowd: Leave space between you and other groups. Be patient and wait for other groups to finish before taking your turn;

• Find creative ways to distribute candy by using tongs, a baking sheet or making a candy slide to create more space when handing out candy. Hand out individually sealed, pre-packaged treats instead of offering a shared bowl.

• Help make trick-or-treating more accessible to everyone by handing out treats from the bottom of your stairs or at your curbside;

• If you can, stand outside your door to hand out treats so that children won’t need to touch the door or doorbell;

• If you’re unable to sit outside to hand out treats, clean and disinfect doorbells and knobs, handrails and any other high touch surfaces.

• If you are decorating, avoid props that can cause coughing, such as smoke machines.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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