B.C. has amended rules around indoor gatherings following increased COVID-19 case counts, including rescinding the temporary variance on indoor religious gatherings.

The amended regulations will come into effect at midnight on March 30th.

“COVID-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe,” said Premier John Horgan. “We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer’s orders, combined with our vaccines, give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, has called for a three-week closure of indoor dining establishments, group fitness programs and religious gatherings.

Restaurants may still be open for take-out and drive-thru services, but those with an appetizer-only menu must close. That said, patios may still be used, and patrons are asked to only go out with their immediate household or core bubble.

The B.C. Government said indoor group fitness activities will also be suspended, and gyms and fitness centres are restricted to individual or one-on-one activities.

As well, the previously issued variance for indoor religious services ahead of Passover and Easter has been rescinded. Outdoor faith services are still allowed, however.

Henry also announced that health guidance for schools has been amended to encourage all students in Grade 4 and up to wear masks while at school.

The province is reminding residents that travel is limited to essential only, meaning for work and medical reasons only. To facilitate the restrictions on non-essential travel, the province has shut down the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort for three weeks.

Workers are also asked to work from home whenever possible.

The amended regulations will be in place until April 19th, at least.

“Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities.”

This update comes as B.C. is reporting higher new case counts across the province, with 2,518 new cases around the province and 156 in Interior Health between Friday and Monday.

“Social connection is important, and so is keeping our loved ones and ourselves safe. We all have a choice – to stay safe or put our loved ones, our friends and ourselves at risk, which is why non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people. The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm,” said Dr. Henry.

Numbers

Between Friday and Monday, 2,518 new COVID-19 cases were reported across B.C., with 156 in Interior Health.

Breaking down the weekend’s cases:

  • Friday to Saturday: 936
  • Saturday to Sunday: 805
  • Sunday to Monday: 777

In the Kootenay Boundary region, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) reported nine new cases between March 18th and 24th. The region has seen a total of 230 cases since the pandemic began.

The BCCDC said 447 cases remain active within the Interior Health region, with 17 patients being treated for COVID-19 in the hospital, five of whom are in intensive care.

So far, IH has seen 8,414 total cases with 7,853 recoveries.

114 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the IH region to date.

Across B.C., there are 6,902 active cases remaining, 299 of them have been hospitalized and 79 are in the ICU.

According to the BCCDC, 98,195 total cases have been reported province-wide since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, 89,722 British Columbians have recovered.

six more deaths have been attributed to the virus in B.C. over the weekend. 1,455 people have died from the coronavirus in the province so far.

So far, 699,092 vaccine doses have been administered.

Current COVID-19 statistics:

  • Mortality rate (deaths to total recoveries):
    • Province-wide: 1.62%.
    • Interior Health: 1.45%.
  • Recovery rate (recoveries to total cases):
    • Province-wide: 91.37%.
    • Interior Health: 93.33%.
  • Tests (total and new):
    • Province-wide: 2,175,242 total, 7,335 new (Sunday to Monday).
    • Interior Health: 215,129 total, 687 new (Sunday to Monday).
  • Positive test rate (total and new):
    • Province-wide: 4.51% total, 10.59% new (Sunday to Monday).
    • Interior Health: 3.91% total, 7.57% new (Sunday to Monday).

More: BCCDC COVID-19 data (BCCDC)