Indoor religious gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed in BC, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Thursday.
During a press conference, Henry said the change comes amid ongoing discussions with faith leaders, and the official provincial order has now been updated.
“Indoor faith services can be started today, and that includes allowance for up to 50 people at indoor faith services with a detailed COVID-19 safety plan in place,” she said.
Asked if this order extended to baptisms, funerals, and weddings, Henry said it does allow for “small” funerals and baptisms as part of religious service, “but not at the moment for weddings.”
Weddings, Henry continued, are still subject to the same restrictions as other indoor gatherings, “and the number is still limited to 10 people.”
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Henry’s comments came the same day health officials announced 378 new test-positive COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 143,264.
Henry said that broken down by health region, this equates to 98 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 189 new cases in the Fraser Health region, nine new cases in the Island Health region, 68 new cases in the Interior Health region, and 14 new cases in the Northern Health region.
There were also seven more deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,690.
There are currently 3,543 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 286 people are hospitalized, 88 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
Henry said that 137,289 individuals who tested positive have now recovered.