After Alberta’s chief medical officer said recently that it was okay for Albertans to enjoy the outdoors with small groups of friends – so long as proper physical distancing measures are employed – BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked for her take on the advice and whether or not she would apply the same guidelines here in BC.
Speaking at her daily briefing on Thursday, Henry said that in BC, “we’ve always maintained … that being outside is important for us to be able to release when we’re going through such stressful times as these.”
However, it needs to be done safely. “That means maintaining our distance and going with our family, our household group, our circle,” she said.
“As we’re moving into the next phase of this, we need to consider each of us and our families, and how we can … expand our circles, but do it in a way that is safe,” she said. “That means we might be able to connect with others in a way that we haven’t been able to in the last little while, but we need to be thoughtful about it.”
The more “groups and people that we have connections with, the more the chances are that we might transmit this virus, so we need to be careful about our own situation. It may be fine, for young people who are by themselves, for example, to connect with other small groups of friends,” she furthered.
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Still, Henry maintained her position with respect to large gatherings of people: “We’re not going to be having indoor parties this coming summer,” she said. “[But] we can look at how we can safely have more contact and more people in our lives, to have those circles slightly bigger.”
Recognizing that there may be individuals within these circles requiring extra care – someone going through cancer treatments, for example – Henry said the challenge is going to be “how do we protect those people who need it most?” And in cases like these, people shouldn’t be expanding their circle very much at all.
If someone in this type of circumstance is going back to work, then they need to be careful about “things like going outside and meeting other people … so that we don’t bring something home that might affect somebody who’s more vulnerable,” she said.
“It’s really about thinking about how we as social beings expand our social circles slightly, but not to where we were before, and make sure that we continue with the basics.”