New COVID-19 “circuit breaker” restrictions have been announced for the Northern Health region.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement during a snap press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The new restrictions, which are as a result of increased transmission and serious illness, take effect at midnight.
“We have thrown everything in but the kitchen sink,” said Minister Dix.
Rapid transmission has been able to continue in Northern Health, due to a lower rate of vaccination according to Dr. Henry. She also said the Delta variant was still the primary contributing factor to transmission, and to the increased presence of severe illness.
Dr. Henry stressed young people are being affected to a greater degree, driving that point home by revealing that someone in their 20s passed away from COVID-19 today.
Expanded restrictions will primarily impact indoor gatherings and will be in effect until at least November 19.
Personal gatherings, indoor and outdoor, will be restricted to only fully vaccinated people.
Indoor gatherings will remain restricted to five people, and outdoor gatherings to 25 people, again, as long as participants are fully vaccinated. Organized gatherings will require everyone to be fully vaccinated, and masks must be worn.
Indoor organized events will be limited to 50 people, and outdoor to 100 people. Again, everyone must be fully vaccinated.
Premises which serve food and liquor must stop liquor service at 10 pm, and venues that only serve alcohol must close completely.
Worship services will also be affected, and will be limited to virtual services only.
The situation around serious COVID-19 infections in Northern Health has become so severe that ICU patients have needed to be transferred to other health regions. So far, 58 patients in total have been transferred as of Thursday afternoon, according to Dix.
BC health officials instituted similar measures in response to a worsening situation in the eastern Fraser Valley in late September.
Locations that won’t be affected include Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, Telegraph Creek, Snow Country, and the Nisga’a areas.
“These measures are to stop transmission and to save lives,” said Dr. Henry