Dr. Henry cracks down on household gatherings with new health order

Oct 26 2020, 10:31 pm

On the same day BC recorded its largest three-day total increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a new public health order: Household gatherings must be limited “in private homes to no more than your immediate household, plus “your safe six.”

This, she said, “is a province-wide order that applies to all homes for all occasions.”

Henry said she issued the order because “similar to what occurred in the summer with vacation homes and rentals, we have seen a notable increase in new cases and transmission of COVID-19 as a direct result of social gatherings in private homes.”

Until today, provincial orders on gatherings and events allowed events of up to 50 people, as long as a number of guidelines could be met, including a sufficient amount of space for patrons to maintain a two-metre distance from one another and a limit of six patrons at each table, even if they were part of the same party.

However,  “we know the vast majority of homes cannot safely accommodate large numbers of people,” said Henry on Monday.

And when it comes to gatherings, Henry said, “too often, over the last few weeks, we’ve been hearing stories where people… feel it’s okay to have a few additional people – or for people to mix and mingle – and unfortunately, we have seen spread in these environments.”

For those who try to flout the new rules, “enforcement will be stepped up to ensure people are following this new order, with the immediate focus on the Fraser Health region, where the increase in new cases is most notable,” she added. The orders are enforceable by bylaw and police officers.

Henry issued the order during a press conference on Monday in which she said 817 new test-positive coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the province since Friday, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 13,371.

Dr. Henry said there were 317 cases reported from Friday to Saturday, 293 from Saturday to Sunday, and 207 from Sunday to Monday.

Broken down by health region, this equates to 4,428 cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 7,529 in the Fraser Health region, 250 in the Island Health region, 639 in the Interior Health region, 383 in the Northern Health region and 88 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There were also three more deaths over the weekend.

There are currently 2,325 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 5,077 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.

Currently, 77 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 26 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

The province said that 10,734 individuals who tested positive have now recovered.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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