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Indoor dining, adult group fitness, worship halted as B.C. aims to slow COVID-19 spread

For the next three weeks, there is a ban on indoor restaurant dining and adult group fitness, and limited indoor worship. 

Those are just some of the rules as the province tries to get a handle on a startling spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new health and safety measures that will be in place until April 19th.

Dr. Henry says putting new restrictions in place is always a difficult decision:

“I can say that we have been agonizing over this across the province with my public health colleagues for the last number of days. But we know more now, and we know that there are settings that we can safely have activities and focusing on those safe activities, particularly outdoors with small numbers of people, is what will get us through.”

“COVID-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe,” said Premier John Horgan. 

“We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer’s orders, combined with our vaccines, give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together.”

New and amended orders and guidelines are in effect through April 19th, and include:

  • For restaurants, bars and pubs, all food and liquor-serving premises must only provide take-out or delivery service. Dine-in service is prohibited, except for outdoor patios. People dining on patios should do so with their immediate household or core bubble.
  • Indoor, adult group fitness activities of any kind are also paused. Gyms and fitness centres are restricted to individual or one-on-one activities only i.e. one-on-one personal training.
  • The previously announced class variance for limited indoor worship services has been suspended. Outdoor worship services under the current variance may continue.
  • Travel continues to be limited to essential travel, work or medical reasons only. For those who have travelled outside their health region, if you or anyone in your family develops any signs of illness, you must stay home from work, school or daycare, and arrange to get tested immediately.
  • Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort is closed through to April 19th to address and prevent community spread related to non-essential travel.
  • All workers are strongly encouraged to work from home, where possible.
  • Public health guidance for schools has also been amended to support and encourage students down to Grade 4 to wear masks while at school.

“Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns,” said health minister Adrian Dix. 

“B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities.”

Dr. Henry says while social connection is important, so is keeping our loved ones and ourselves safe. 

“We all have a choice – to stay safe or put our loved ones, our friends and ourselves at risk, which is why non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people. The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm.”

Today, the province reported on three periods:

March 26th to 27th, B.C. had 936 new cases, March 27th to 28th there were 805 new cases, and in the last 24-hours, there have been another 774 new cases. 

This amounts to 2,518 new cases, for a total of 98,165 in B.C. 

A total of 299 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 79 of whom are in intensive care. 

There have been six new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,455. 

New cases by region:

Vancouver Coastal Health – 816

Fraser Health – 1,280

Island Health – 142

Interior Health – 156

Northern Health – 121

People who reside outside Canada – three

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