Fraser Health officials ask people not to hold private Halloween parties

·2 min read

SURREY — Health officials in B.C.'s Fraser Valley are urging people not to hold private parties this Halloween weekend in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin said it's fine to take children trick-or-treating in a safe way or get together in a restaurant with a safety plan in place, but people should refrain from gathering in homes.

"In other words, no parties, no large celebrations, no weddings, et cetera, in private residences," the chief medical health officer for Fraser Health told a news conference Tuesday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also said private gatherings in the Lower Mainland are the main driver of the rising COVID-19 case count in B.C.

On Monday, Henry issued a new public health order restricting the number of people allowed to gather in private homes to members of the immediate household plus their "safe six" guests.

Brodkin said Fraser Health is "going one step further" and recommending people don't gather in private homes with others from outside the household.

She said many of the latest infections can be linked to clusters in households or at social gatherings, such as weddings, which can in turn fuel the spread of the illness in workplaces, schools and health-care facilities.

There are no plans to "cancel" Halloween, said Brodkin, adding that that people should stay away from other groups and practise good hygiene and physical distancing while collecting treats.

Fraser Health has reported 7,674 cases since the start of the pandemic, with most of the infections in people aged 20 to 29.

The region seems to be a hot spot for COVID-19 because it has the highest density of multi-generational people living in close proximity to each other, making it easier for the virus to circulate, Brodkin said.

Health officials don't want to return to the restrictions imposed at the start of the pandemic, which saw many venues close, she said, but action will be taken depending on the rise in case numbers.

With the number of cases in B.C. on the rise, the province has further extended the state of emergency to Nov. 10.

B.C. reported 217 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the number of active infections to 2,322.

There have been no more deaths, leaving the death toll in the province at 259.

B.C. has confirmed 13,588 cases since the start of the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Dr. Henry imposed new restrictions on Tuesday.