B.C. is implementing a three-week “circuit breaker”-style lockdown, introducing sweeping new restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants, group fitness and worship services.
The province recorded 2,518 new COVID-19 cases over the last three days, including a record high 936 on Saturday. Six more people have died.
“We have seen the start of exponential growth,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “Gathering indoors is what is the greatest risk to all of us right now.”
The province announced on Monday that all food and liquor-serving premises must pivot to takeout or delivery service. Indoor dining is suspended, though patios will remain open.
People dining on patios should do so with their immediate household or core bubble only.
Indoor, adult group fitness activities of any kind are paused.
A previous announcement allowing for limited indoor worship services has been suspended.
Public health guidance for schools has also been amended and now encourages students down to Grade 4 to wear masks while at school.
First new restrictions in months
All new public health orders go into effect at midnight on March 30 and will be in place until April 19.
B.C. is tightening restrictions for the first time since November. Indoor dining in the province has remained open since May 2020.
But B.C.’s rolling average is now at 803 cases a day — the second highest number of the pandemic.
Premier John Horgan spoke directly to people aged 20 to 39, saying “do not blow this for the rest of us.”
“We have made such good progress together … and we have come a great distance but we cannot blow it now … We have weeks and weeks to go and we need to redouble our efforts to focus on individual responsibility for the greater good,” he said.
People in B.C. are still able gather in groups of 10 outdoors. Henry urged people to stick to the same group of 10 people.
“I am asking for your help for this next few weeks. If you are gathering outside, even if it starts to rain or snow … stay outside,” she said.