BC tightens mask and capacity rules as Omicron detected in the province
On the heels of the first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant being detected in the province, BC health officials have outlined some revisions to current restrictions and health orders.
The changes were announced during a Tuesday afternoon press conference with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
While some additional measures are being implemented in certain regions, some restrictions are also being repealed as of Tuesday night.
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While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, BC health officials are proactively revising some of the existing health orders.
“We must anticipate and plan for the worst,” said Henry.
She also suggested that wearing a face mask will become increasingly important as the province navigates the Omicron variant.
Under the events and gathering orders, worship services will now be limited to 50% capacity across the province unless all participants are vaccinated, in which case 100% capacity is still okay. Anyone attending a worship service must also remain masked, which also applies to choirs. Masks can be removed for the purposes of eating, drinking or to allow for ceremony activities. Masks can also be removed if distancing is in place.
Northern Health will be revising their current orders, which will have an extended expiry date of January 31, 2022. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed, and restaurants have to end liquor service at 10 pm. Social gatherings at private residences will be for up to 10 people inside, or 25 people outside of attendees are fully vaccinated.
Indoor seated events in Northern Health of more than 10 people will have a 50% capacity limit, which includes funerals, weddings, sporting events, theatre arts and performance events. These changes come into effect on Wednesday.
Additionally, the measures for Interior Health will be repealed as of Tuesday evening, and Henry chalks this up to a decrease in transmission and a levelling off in hospitals and communities.
The measures that were put in place for eastern Fraser Valley will remain for the time being.
BC health officials will continue to watch Omicron closely, and will be looking to see if the strain has a competitive advantage “that will allow it to take over.”