B.C.'s top doctor extends COVID-19 limits for 'hard push' before vaccinations

·2 min read

VANCOUVER — British Columbia's provincial health officer has extended COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings in order to slow down the spread of the virus amid concerns about new variants.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says a "hard push" is needed so youth sports and faith programs as well as limited social interactions can resume by the end of the month after controls were put in place in November.

She says the restrictions are needed to see a "smooth, flat path to the finish" as more vaccines are made available

Henry says gatherings during the Super Bowl, Family Day, the Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day could threaten that progress.

The province has recorded 10 new cases of the U.K. and South African variants, for a total of 28 new variant cases.

Among the 19 cases of the U.K. variant, five were linked to travel, while one of the nine cases of the South African variant is related to travel.

Henry says she intentionally did not set a specific deadline for an end to her orders because if variants start to spread "all bets are off" and some restrictions may need to increase.

"We are in a place of a little bit of more uncertainty and we need to buy some time to understand if the positive things we are seeing are going to allow us to take away from the restrictions we have in place now. And we don't yet know that."

Henry says she will continually review the data to determine if restrictions may be loosened before the end of the month.

"It's not going to be, 'Yay, we're out of this, we can go back to normal,' " she said.

"I want us to safely go to restaurants, to safely go to retail shops, to safely go to our hairdressers and other important places in our community."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press