As BC reached a new record-high in daily COVID-19 cases today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry strongly advised British Columbians to keep their social bubbles small.
Specifically, Henry addressed the 50-person limit on gatherings that was implemented in March.
“One of the things that is really important at this point in time is the restrictions that we have on gatherings. And we have maintained a constant consistent approach of no more than 50 people,” she said in a press conference today.
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“This is another protective layer to contain the spread. It means reduced numbers of people so that when somebody inadvertently brings the virus into your collection of people… it can’t spread too widely.”
However, Henry stated that it is clear the virus is spreading, even in smaller groups, and that as a result “we all need to take a step back and reassess.”
She went on to clarify when 50-person gatherings are permissible.
“It’s very important to remember that 50 people is an upper limit and only where you have the space to do that to maintain safe distances,” she said.
The current provincial order on gatherings and events highlights that 50-person events are permissible only if a number of guidelines can be met, including a sufficient amount of space for patrons to maintain a two-metre distance from one another and a limit of six patrons at each table, even if they belong to the same party.
Henry stressed that gatherings must be “scaled down” based on the space in which they are taking place.
“I need everybody to understand that now,” she said. “Whether it’s inside or outside maintaining safe distances is important. Keeping your numbers small is important.”
Just because you can fit 50 into your space “does not make it safe”
For those thinking that they can host a 50-person gathering in yards or their garden spaces, Henry says to think twice.
“Just because you can fit 50 people into your small back garden does not make it safe. And that’s where we’re seeing transmission, and we’re seeing transmission to people we care about, and now we’re seeing spillover into people like grandparents, like elders who are more susceptible to having severe illness from COVID-19,” she stated.
“We are in a global pandemic, and these are the sacrifices we need to make.”
Using an example of how businesses limit the number of their occupants based on their size, Henry said the same logic needs to be applied for outside and inside our homes. “Regardless of our location, when we are socializing with others, smaller is always safer,” she said.
Stick to the same six
As BC ramps up for respiratory season, Henry said British Columbians need to step back and “stick with six” people in the same bubble when socializing.
Seeing different friends on different days is a “continued source of transmission that we are seeing in our communities now,” she said, adding that the compromises people must make is to see fewer family members and friends, for now.
“The compromise is, our small groups also need to be the same small groups.”
“The restrictions and precautions that we have put in place here are not forever. But they are needed right now. By stepping back now, we can protect those who are most vulnerable, and we can keep the people we care about safe.”