Masks now mandatory in stores as B.C. toughens COVID restrictions

Places of worship closed to groups; No trips to Whistler or Tofino; Schools to remain open

David Carrigg November 20, 2020

Tough public health orders have been expanded and extended across the province, as B.C. posts another bad COVID-19 day.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there have been five new health-care-facility outbreaks, an outbreak at an LNG Canada work site in Kitimat, one more death and 538 fresh cases, leading to strains on health resources. There are 59 active outbreaks in long-term care homes and hospitals and 9,929 active cases across the province.

Henry said Nov. 9 orders restricting visits to family homes and shuttering spin, hot yoga and high-intensity training sessions have been extended until Dec. 7 and broadened across the province. The original order impacted only Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, which accounts for three million people.

Henry said the disease is spreading across B.C., health resources are being stressed, and she needed to act now. There are 217 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 59 in intensive care.

Baptisms, weddings and funerals will be limited to 10 people — including seven guests — and no events before or after.

Places of worship are closed for groups and all events and gatherings are banned.

Masks are now mandatory in indoor retail spaces and indoor public spaces, including elevators. There are to be no spectators at any indoor sports.

Henry said she has created two working groups, led by deputy provincial health officers, to increase enforcement of business COVID-19 plans and to focus on schools. The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General will be charged with enforcing the orders.

She said nobody should be travelling for recreational or social reasons, specifically highlighting Whistler and Tofino. Travel vacation rentals are discouraged. Henry said this is a recommendation not an order.

Henry said schools will remain open. According to the Ministry of Health, there have been 261 exposures at schools.

On Nov. 3, the Public Health Agency of Canada updated its guidelines on COVID-19 transmission to include aerosol particles, not just droplets.

Henry said scientists are learning that COVID-19 can spread more easily than initially thought.

Henry said the number of COVID-19 cases at workplaces is increasing and has affected food processing facilities, car dealerships, banks and grocery stores. She said these cases have so far not spread to customers.

Several workers are sick at an LNG Canada work site near Kitimat.

She said work travel is essential travel and that the number of work-camp outbreaks has dropped as COVID plans are put in place.

Henry said employers should allow people to work from home if at all possible.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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