What the new COVID-19 restrictions in BC mean for dining at restaurants

Nov 9 2020, 4:20 pm

On Saturday, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new COVID-19 restrictions for the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.

The new rules clamp down on Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, and they affect four areas: social gatherings, travel, indoor group physical activities, and workplace safety.

When the restrictions were announced, there was some confusion surrounding what exactly this meant for restaurants, but over the weekend, BC health officials have provided clarity on their regional COVID-19 restrictions.

From now until November 23, there are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your “core bubble” or immediate household.

“A core bubble are the people you spend the most time with and are physically close to. For some people, their core bubble is their immediate household. For others, their core bubble may contain a partner, relative, friend or co-parent who lives in a different household,” stated the province, adding that one’s “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

Health officials confirmed that while you can see other people in a restaurant, it must be kept small, saying, “We need to reduce our social interactions as much as possible.⁠”

Those living alone can continue to see members of what they would consider their immediate household at home, outside, or at a restaurant.⁠

More details about dining out under new orders

During a press conference on Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry clarified further.

“You can still go out for dinner, but make sure you are following all of the restaurant’s rules without exception,” said Dr. Henry.

Dr. Henry reiterated those restaurant rules briefly, including a maximum of six people per group, no intermingling with other tables, and opting to wear masks in common areas of establishments, to name a few.

“We have quite strict protocols in restaurants, and since we put those in, particularly since we put in the capping of serving of alcohol at 10 o’clock and the earlier closing, those were the time periods where we were starting to see creep, where people were not obeying the rules and wanting to socialize together.”

“We can still safely go with our close household, and the challenge is defining a household for people that live in many different situations. The bottom line is the small number of people that you have your own close contact with. Going back to that bubble that we defined earlier on in this pandemic.”

When asked if she could clearly define who we are allowed to be eating with, Dr. Henry reiterated that dining with your “pandemic bubble” is permitted.

“What we are asking people is that when you socialize, you are socializing with your household. Whatever you define that to be. Your pandemic bubble. Yes, you can go to a restaurant, and I encourage people to continue to go to restaurants that have appropriate safety plans in place. Right now we need to make sure we are doing it with our group of people. It’s not up to the restaurant to police this. It’s up to us to police this. That means keeping our group small.”

“We need to support our restaurants but doing it with our small group or going to takeout.”

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.

With files from Simran Singh and Zoe Demarco

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