It’s time to start thinking like we did in the spring.
That’s the message from B.C.’s top doctor as sections of the province imposed new restrictions on social gatherings and businesses over the weekend.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a briefing Monday, it’s time to return to some of the mindsets of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic — and no, she’s not talking about toilet paper hoarding.
“I am directing now that we need to think about the things that we did in the spring, socialize virtually, check in on those that you’re close to, plan parties and celebrations for next year, when it is safe for us to get together again,” Henry said. “And we will be able to get together again.”
The new restrictions suspended all socializing outside of the immediate household (the people you live with, or one or two close contacts for people who live alone) in the Vancouver and Fraser Health regions, which have seen large surges in case numbers recently. The new restrictions also banned wedding receptions and suspended the operation of party buses and limos.
The restrictions are expected to be in place for two weeks.
“This is a short-term thing where we need to stop our social interactions with people outside of our close group,” Henry said.
“It is a short-term pause on non-essential activities and travel to ensure that our essential activities like school and work and health care can safely continue.”
Henry encouraged B.C. residents to return to the mindset of March and April and prioritize virtual social activities and limit travel, for the short-term.
“It’s not that different than when we were addressing the issues we were faced with in March and April of this year,” she said. “We’ve seen this before, we need to start going back to that.”
She encouraged British Columbians to work from home if they are able, to drop food off instead of visiting people for dinner and to check on their elderly neighbours. Henry said that when in doubt, don’t travel or socialize and to postpone any plans to visit with friends or family in person for the next few weeks.
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Henry said that by limiting social contact and temporarily suspending some activities, the province will be able to keep essential services open like health care, schooling and workplaces.
“We ask that you prioritize the critical over the optional for the next two weeks,” she said.
B.C. is not the only province in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Every province outside of Atlantic Canada has recorded new daily case count records in recent weeks and surging infection rates, but each has approached the idea of fresh restrictions differently.
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Ontario has introduced targeted restrictions similar to B.C.’s in the Peel region, where some areas have seen test-positivity rates north of 10 per cent.
On Tuesday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced that the entire province was going into a “critical alert” and that all non-essential businesses would be closed, social contact would be restricted and only essential services would operate. The province currently has the highest per capita infection rate in the country.
Meanwhile, B.C.’s next-door neighbour, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has signalled that he wants to avoid a new “lockdown” where at all possible. While voluntary restrictions have been introduced in Calgary and Edmonton, Kenney has repeatedly said the province will not “enforce its way out of this.”