Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that small outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed in B.C. going forward.
However, she said these gatherings must only occur outside, and that “smaller continues to be better.” Gathering in small groups outside should happen with the same people each time, she added. Indoor gatherings are still prohibited.
Henry also displayed new modelling data that showed the impact of the pandemic in B.C. over the last year. She said most cases are still related to community clusters and occur when people are getting together.
She discussed the presence of variants of concern, confirming that the screening process to detect possible variants is now happening faster. There has been an increase in the number of cases that turn out to be variants in B.C., but less than 10 per cent of new cases are variants of concern, which does not match the “rapid takeoff” seen in other jurisdictions.
“We are progressing, but we’re not yet in a place where any of us can let go of this progress that we’ve made,” she said.
She added that alcohol sales on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) will be required to cease at 8 p.m. and cannot resume until 9 a.m. the next day, similar to the restrictions on New Year’s Eve. There will be some caveats around full meal provision and when locations must close.
Henry also announced 569 new cases of COVID-19 today in B.C., three of which are epidemiologically linked. The province has now reached 86,219 cases since the pandemic began.
Of the new cases, 140 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 301 in the Fraser Health region, 41 in the Island Health region, 26 in the Interior Health region, 60 in the Northern Health region and one in a person who lives outside Canada.
There are 4,912 active cases and 244 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 68 of whom are in critical care. More than 8,900 people are under active public health monitoring.
Three people died as a result of COVID-19 since yesterday, and one long-term care outbreak was declared over. To date, more than 360,000 vaccine doses have been administered.
New geographic data shows that Richmond has recorded 2,193 cases of COVID-19 between Jan. 1, 2020 and March 6, 2021. Between Feb. 28 and March 6 there were 105 cases in Richmond, up from 100 the previous week.
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