BC health officials have provided clarity on their regional COVID-19 restrictions regarding gatherings announced over the weekend.
The orders — which apply to the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions — affect four areas: social gatherings, travel, indoor group physical activities, and workplace safety.
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The restrictions clamped down on gatherings of any size with members outside of your immediate household.
It includes indoor and outdoor gatherings and overrides the previous gathering limit of 50 people.
Funerals and weddings will be allowed to proceed, but only with your immediate household, and receptions will not be allowed.
However, the restrictions still left many British Columbians with questions around gatherings outdoors and in restaurants and what the province meant by “immediate household.”
Question: Can we still go out to see places for rent for example? I’m considering moving and I’d like to check out places for rent. I think this isn’t a social gathering, but it definitely invades the homes of others. So, would this kind of meeting be acceptable?
— Gurleen Kaur (@GurleenK23) November 8, 2020
Also going to a restaurant with someone not from your household?
— Theresa Shaw (@tshaw3000) November 8, 2020
What about seeing your significant other? My girlfriend and I do not live together. We are the only people we see but we do both have roommates..
— Raine (@raineg) November 8, 2020
Can you comment on restaurant visits? I saw a comment saying people were encouraged to use restaurants to visit friends and family. Made no sense to me.
— CG (@cndngirl) November 9, 2020
@VCHhealthcare Where do outdoor, physically distanced visits fit within these new orders? I’m getting lots of questions on this from friends/neighbours and want to make sure I’m translating accurately.
— Laura Schummers (@DrLSchummers) November 8, 2020
And what about people living alone?
— Ken Hamilton (@geotuul) November 8, 2020
On Sunday, the BC Ministry of Health followed up with a statement to provide clarity to the confusion.
On social gatherings
The Ministry of Health confirmed there are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household. This includes outdoors and in restaurants.
What defines your “immediate household”?
Your immediate household is “the people you spend the most time with and are physically close to,” stated the ministry.
These are the people who are part of your regular routine and include your household members, immediate family, a close friend or the people you come into “regular close contact with,” like a co-parent who lives outside the household.
“For others, their core bubble may contain a partner, relative, friend or co-parent who lives in a different household.”
Your immediate household can count as:
- Your immediate family
- A group of people who live in the same dwelling. For example:
- If you have a rental suite in your home, the suite is a separate household
- If you live in an apartment or house with roommates, you are all members of the same household
What if you live alone?
If you live alone, you cannot host gatherings. However, you are allowed to see members of what you consider your “immediate household” (see definition above). You can see these individuals at home or at a restaurant.
What about walking with someone outside your household?
Going for a walk “isn’t considered a social gathering” but residents are asked to remain “vigilant” to ensure the walk doesn’t “turn into a group of people gathering outside,” said officials.
Conflicting messages from health authorities
On Sunday, the Vancouver Coastal Health region also put out a statement regarding the new orders.
VCH initially stated that the order “applies to social gatherings inside private residences and receptions following weddings and funerals,” adding that “all other outdoor gatherings can continue according to pre-existing Public Health guidelines and previous orders.”
Many were quick to point out that VCH’s messaging differed from that of the BC Ministry of Health.
VCH later updated the information to clarify that outdoor gatherings were not allowed.
The new BC COVID-19 regional restrictions will last until November 23 at 12 pm and are applicable for these specific communities.
Complete details on the order can be found here.