More loosening of B.C.’s restrictions unlikely in short term

·3 min read

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry hinted that she does not expect B.C. to move to Step 4 of its restart plan on Sept. 7, the earliest possible date indicated when the plan was first released.

“We always said this would be the earliest, and it’s very likely that we won’t be seeing a move to any more loosening of restrictions in the near term,” said Henry at a press conference today.

Originally, provincial guidelines dictated that a move to Step 4 required 70 per cent of adults to be vaccinated with one dose, along with low case counts and low hospitalizations related to the virus. Step 4 allows people to return to "normal" personal gatherings and social contact, and removes most other pandemic-related restrictions.

“We’ve met our immunization targets, but not those other pieces right now,” said Henry.

More details will be coming next week, in addition to details about K-12 and post-secondary safety plans and guidelines.

B.C. health authorities reported 663 new cases of COVID-19 today, seven of which are epidemiologically linked. Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded 158,919 cases.

Of the new cases, 135 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 162 in the Fraser Health region, 54 in the Island Health region, 274 in the Interior Health region, 38 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

In response to virus rates in the Interior Health region, which remain high, health officials extended the measures currently in place in the Central Okanagan to the entire Interior Health region. Measures include limitations on gatherings, suspension of high-intensity indoor fitness classes and the return of the mandatory mask order in indoor public spaces.

“We have seen a levelling off of transmission in the Central Okanagan where these measures have been in place,” said Henry.

She added that non-essential travel to the Interior Health region should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status.

There are 6,345 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 129 of those people are hospitalized, 59 of whom are in intensive care.

To date, 7,296,096 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C.; 3,442,163 of those are second doses.

This means that 83.8 per cent of adults and 83 per cent of people aged 12 and older have received their first dose of a vaccine. In addition, 75.5 per cent of adults and 74.3 per cent of those aged 12 and older have received two doses.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said as of Monday, vaccination status of new cases will be reported in daily written briefings.

“People can choose not to be vaccinated, but there will be significant things you will not be able to do if you’re not vaccinated,” said Dix.

Sadly, there was one new virus-related death reported today, bringing that total to 1,785.

Active outbreaks continue at eight long-term care facilities and three assisted or independent living facilities. There is also a new workplace and communal living outbreak in the Northern Health region.

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel

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