Restrictions in place till April 19 as COVID cases spike

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Monday, March 29 2021

On Monday, March 29, Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, put in place restrictions to create what she called a ‘circuit breaker’ to try and stop the exponential growth in COVID cases being seen in the population.

Between Friday and Monday, there were 2,518 new cases of COVID-19 in BC.

142 new cases were on Vancouver Island.

Dr. Henry said there has been work to balance being able to keep schools and workplaces open, but unfortunately, “our balance in BC is now off.

“In the last six days, we have seen the start of exponential growth. The strain on our acute care systems is ramping up. We do not have enough people protected with vaccines to keep our communities safe.”

She noted that there has also been an increase in the number of variants-of-concern (VOCs) of COVID-19 in BC - noting in particular there are now 270 cases of the P1 VOC which originated in Brazil.

Whistler-Blackcomb has seen a number of the P1 VOC - and one of the restrictions announced on monday was that the resort would be shutting down until April 19 to try and curtail the spread of the P1 VOC.

Dr. Henry said P1 is a variant which has shown itself to be not only more transmissible, but has also shown itself to be less amenable to the vaccines.

“We have seen people who have gone to Whistler, and then gone home, to the Mainland, to the Interior, and here on Vancouver Island, are now popping up as cases.”

Anyone who has been to Whistler - or anywhere else outside their home community - and is feeling unwell, is advised to get tested, and stay away from others.

Dr. Henry said gathering indoors is what is the greatest risk to everyone.

As such - she announced a number of restrictions to be in place until April 19.

“I am asking these to stop, for three weeks, so we can make progress.”

“I am asking for help, for these three weeks. If you are gathering outside, even if it starts to rain or snow, stay outside when you are with you friends.

“Putting new orders in place is a difficult decision. We have been agonizing over this for the last number of days.

“At this time, it is a step back from where we want to be. But when spikes occur, we need a circuit breaker, to stop this virus now.

“We have a choice to stay safe. Lets all of us stay outside, stay apart, be together by staying apart, and staying within our same group of close contacts.

“We can get through this.

“This is one of those challenging times. The miles are hardest when we are closest to the finish.

“We know what we need to do to get there. Continue to be kind to each other, be calm, and be safe.

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.