On November 19, Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial public health officer issued new Covid rules effective immediately to slow down the sudden spike in new Covid cases which rose to over 700 new cases per day in the past week. The new restrictions are in effect until December 7th if the situation improves by then.
British Columbians are advised to stay local and not to travel outside their community unless it is for work, medical and other essential reasons. Although this is not subject to enforcement, checkpoints, ticketing or other penalties, it was pointed out that based on tracing and testing results, outside contacts are major spreaders of the coronavirus so Dr. Henry asked that recreational and social travel be postponed for the next two weeks. “Curtail unnecessary, non-essential travel within your local area and community,” she said. It seems best to stay home and go out only when necessary. BC is also asking people from other provinces and territories not to come to BC although this is not yet a legal order or a ban.
Masks are now mandatory in all indoor public spaces including stores. This new order is under BC’s Emergency Act and is enforceable.
Wearing masks for all indoor public and retail spaces is mandatory not only for staff but also for customers except when they are eating or drinking in bars or restaurants, Dr. Henry explained. But it is required at all times if the customer leaves the table for any reason while inside the restaurant.
Masks minimizes the spread of Covid-19 by protecting both the wearer and the people nearby from inhaling possible Covid virus in the air. Mandatory mask is in effect in common areas at workplaces and condos too such as elevators, lobbies, mailroom, water cooler areas and corridors. “If you share an office at work, you must wear a mask,” emphasized Dr.Henry.
The order to mask does not apply to children under two years and people with disabilities or other restrictions that may not be physically noticeable to everyone.
British Columbians are ordered not to socialize with people who don’t live under the same roof or who are not immediate household members (one to two friends are allowed to visit those who live alone but precautions must be observed). Nor should they host parties or social events of any size with participants other than immediate household members. This order affects Metro Vancouver and the rest of the province. “Delay inviting over friends and relatives for social visits for the next two weeks, Dr. Henry said.
The long standing order banning gatherings of more than 50 people remains in effect throughout BC. “It’s OK to go for a walk with a friend. Or pick up kids from school or help grandparents with minor home repairs. Those are not social gatherings,” Dr.Henry explained. Also exempt are trades people coming to do repairs or housekeepers coming to clean homes. But proper precautions must be observed to make sure everyone is protected from each other.
In view of the sudden surge of new Covid cases in Canada, other provinces like Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have instituted new restrictions in their respective provinces. Every province and territory is responsible for its public health system to control the spread of the virus in their respective places.
Following the five safety measures of masking, distancing, hand washing, airing out rooms for ventilation and observing respiratory etiquette will go a long way in keeping one Covid-free.
The risk of getting Covid-19 is highest in closed spaces with poor ventilation and tightly packed with people in close-contact settings such as close range conversation. It has been scientifically proven that close contact with a Covid-infected person is the surest way to get the virus. Avoiding such places will protect one from the virus. The risk of contacting Covid-19 can be reduced by diligently avoiding these three Cs – closed spaces, crowds, close-contact settings.
If unavoidable, limiting the length of time spent in these three potentially dangerous situations may also reduce the risk to one’s safety. A person attending a situation with these risk factors combined may not only get infected with Covid-19 but may also become a super spreader of the disease and infect his own family, friends and all those around him.