Monday’s update on COVID-19 came with mixed news for weary British Columbians. On the positive side, the first vaccines will arrive in B.C. next week. However, the extension of household restrictions virtually rules out family get-togethers at Christmas. (Ben Nelms/CBC)


B.C.’s provincial health officer extended the ban on social gatherings for another month on Monday, as the province recorded 35 more deaths related to COVID-19 and 2,020 new cases over the weekend.

Residents will continue to only be able to socialize with people in their household until Jan. 8 at midnight, Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a widely anticipated update that offered a clear directive against holding large holiday gatherings.

All events and gatherings are also banned until that time, with the exception of drive-thru and drop-off events, such as toy drives and light shows.

Other restrictions will continue indefinitely, including a ban on in-person faith services, high-intensity group fitness classes and adult team sports.

Henry said the restrictions put in place earlier this month are starting to work, but the province can’t afford a rebound of cases and a resulting surge in hospitalizations.

“We are not yet through this storm and we can not let up now,” she said.

There was also some hope: Henry said B.C. expects to receive a “small amount” of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday morning that up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Canada before the end of the year — shots primarily set aside for long-term care home residents and the people working there.

Henry said she intends to provide a more detailed vaccine roll-out later this week, alongside Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Ross Brown, who is leading the province’s vaccination efforts.

The latest reporting period for new cases announced Monday spanned three days and included: 647 cases between Friday and Saturday, 726 cases between Saturday and Sunday, and 647 cases between Sunday and Monday.

The province has 9,380 active cases. A total of 349 people are in hospital, with 77 people in intensive care.

The death toll stands at 527.

‘You must say no to the party’

The announcement crystallized the fears of many that this year’s holidays will look very different from previous ones.

Travel plans and family gatherings have been up in the air for weeks as residents awaited word from the province. On Monday, Henry’s directive was clear.

“If you’re used to having large dinners with multiple family members, you need to do it remotely,” she said.

Henry added her orders will make it OK for people to turn down invites.

“You can say no to travelling. You can say no to having gatherings with people outside your household.”

Dix acknowledged this December will be a difficult holiday.

“That doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to celebrate,” he said. “We’ll just have to create new and special memories and build new traditions.”


Source: CBC News

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