Due to a worsening COVID-19 situation in the province, BC health officials have announced strict new measures to help curb the spread of the virus.
The new measures will impact bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and gyms, and they are effective as of 11:59 pm on December 22.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, alongside Health Minister Adrian Dix.
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Bars and nightclubs will be ordered to be closed until January 18, as will gyms, fitness centres, and dance studios.
For restaurants, there will be a six-person-per-table maximum, and this also extends to pubs and cafes. Physical distancing and barriers must also be in place.
For seated events, capacity is being reduced by 50% regardless of the size of the venue. Prior to today’s announcement, this order only applied to events with 1,000 or more people in attendance.
Indoor organized gatherings, like weddings, receptions, or celebratory events are also off until January 18.
“Omicron is definitely spreading rapidly, and is more transmissible than what we have seen with the Delta variant that we’ve been managing over the last few months,” said Henry.
“It’s become clear that our best-case scenario about how Omicron might be different in terms of severity is looking less and less likely.”
Hospitalizations have not yet begun to increase dramatically, but Henry suggested that things could change.
BC’s other COVID-19 measures, announced last Friday, remain in place. Personal gatherings are still limited to your household plus one other household or 10 guests, but all must be vaccinated.
While early reports suggest that Omicron is not causing severe illness, it does seem to be more infectious than other variants. Vancouver Coastal Health is currently experiencing the most significant spread across the province.
“We know how to get through this – by following the same measures we’ve followed in the past to protect each other,” added Henry.