Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer is easing Public Health Order in regards to gatherings, amending the order to allow for outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people in the same group.
During Thursday media release, Dr. Henry said now that the days are getting warmer, and longer, it’s time to ease restrictions a little.
"Where we can do things more safely is outside,” Dr. Henry said.
“As a result, the provincial health officer (PHO) order on gatherings and events has been amended to allow for outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.”
Dr. Henry said should people choose to meet with your family and friends, they should remember that safety needs to continue to be top of mind and the requirement to follow all COVID-19 safety plans remains in place - at work or school, when we are out for dinner or going to the grocery store.
"There are no changes to the current restrictions on indoor gatherings - in our homes or elsewhere,” Dr. Henry said.
"The requirements for restaurants and bars also continue. This is a slow turning of the dial.”
However, for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Dr. Henry moving restrictions similar to New Year’s Eve.
"St. Patrick's Day is next week, a day when we often gather with friends,” Dr. Henry said.
“While we can now enjoy the day in a small group outside, the PHO order on food and liquor establishments is being amended to restrict alcohol sales as they were on New Year's Eve.”
Dr. Henry said the plan for the next few weeks is straightforward.
“Keep using our layers of protection and following the orders and restrictions,” she said.
“If you are seeing others, stay small and it must be outside. 'Few faces, open spaces and safety layers in place' are what we need to put COVID-19 behind us."
Thursday’s media briefing reported 569 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 86,219 cases in British Columbia.
There are 4,912 active cases of COVID-19 in the province with 8,989 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 79,829 people who tested positive have recovered.
Dr. Henry said of the active cases, 244 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 68 of whom are in intensive care with the remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
"Since we last reported, we have had 140 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 301 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 41 in the Island Health region, 26 in the Interior Health region, 60 in the Northern Health region and one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada,” Dr. Henry said.
Dr. Henry said there have been 11 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 638 cases. Of the total cases, 89 are active. The remaining people have recovered. This includes 588 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 36 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 14 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.
"To date, Dr. Henry said 366,791 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 87,009 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are open for people over 85 and Indigenous people over 65.
There have been three new COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,397 deaths in British Columbia.
There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks.