Monday, March 29, 2021

Ever increasing spike of new COVID-19 cases brings range of additional measures in British Columbia

Premier Horgan called on British Columbians to recommit themselves to working towards reducing the current accelerating pace of COVID-19 infection, sharing a number of his concerns over recent data that has shown a rising count of positive cases of the coronavirus on a daily basis over the last few weeks. 

In his opening remarks, the Premier spoke of early celebrations and in particular seemed to direct much of his focus on British Columbia's younger residents from the late teens to early thirties for much of his attention.

"Since the pandemic began Doctor Henry, Minister Dix and I have been focused on one thing and that is keeping British Columbians safe. And we've been making great progress in British Columbia and often times I've taken to this podium without Doctor Henry and Minister Dix as they conducted their regular engagement with British Columbians while I took care of other issues that required attention as we came through pandemic.

But the past couple of weeks have put significant challenges in front of all of us  and I wanted to be here with them today, to talk about those two primary issues. The first of course is the increase in case counts over the past ten days or so. Doctor Henry and Minister Dix will get into the details of that.

But during the past week case counts have risen unacceptably high, in fact higher today than at the worst point of the second wave between November and January of this year. The percentages of tests coming back positive has gone up 50 percent in some areas and the number of variants in British Columbia has also increased.

wanted to be here to say to British Columbians that we have made such great progress, together focusing on our collective well being individual actions to protect the greater good and we've come a great distance but we cannot blow it now."

The Premier then observed as to the success of the vaccination program now underway, as well as the challenges that remain for the province in the weeks and weeks  ahead and the need to redouble our efforts to focus on individual responsibility towards the greater good,  with the Premier addressing his comments specifically to younger residents of the population.

"Now I know that the people that tune in regularly to see Doctor Henry and Minister Dix are following the rules, they are paying attention to the details and focusing on making sure that they do their part to get British Columbia through this. 

The cohort from 20 to 39 are not paying as much attention to these broadcasts and quite frankly are putting the rest of us in a challenging situation. 

I'm asking, I'm appealing to young people to curtail your social activity  the directions will be quite clear from Doctor Henry. 

But my appeal to you is do not blow this for the rest of us, do not blow this for your parents and your neighbours and others who hav been working really, really hard making significant sacrifices, so we can get good outcomes for everybody"

As for the increased enforcement ahead,  it was up to Doctor Bonnie Henry to relay the recent data and a list of many new measures to be put in place 'circuit breakers' across the  province at places of work and worship, social settings and in the classrooms of British Columbia. 

In the data review, it was noted that British Columbia recorded 2,518 new cases from Saturday through to today, with the number from Friday to Saturday of 936 the highest daily count for BC since the coronavirus arrived in January.

With a total to date of 98,165 residents having been confirmed with COVID-19, it's likely that British Columbia will no doubt pass the 100,000 mark well before the Easter weekend period gets underway on Thursday.

As for new measures, noting how this was a setback and a step back from where we wanted to be, Doctor Henry observe how these circuit breakers to be put in place over the next three weeks will be essential to allow for the vaccination program to find success and to let the province reach its destination.

New and amended orders and guidelines are in effect through April 19, 2021, 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 19, 2021, 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.

Doctor Henry also noted the impact the new measures will have on Social Connections, but how they are required at this time to address what has been exponential growth in recent weeks of the COVID0-19 coronavirus.

"Social connection is important, and 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.”

Further notes from the Premier on the current situation facing the province included  how the new measures today will serve to reach the end of the pandemic period

“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. 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.” 

For more notes on today's announcements see the BC Government statement here.

The full report for Monday's data review from the BC CDC will be released later this afternoon. 

You can review the provinces travels through the last year of COVID from our archive page here.

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