B.C.’s top doctor is urging British Columbians to stay close to home as the province grapples with a third wave of COVID-19.
“To get to the end as quickly as possible, there are things that we need to do now,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a press briefing Monday. “That includes staying home, staying in your immediate neighbourhood as much as possible.”
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“If you live in North Van, you should not be travelling to Langley or to Richmond. If you live in the Lower Mainland, you should not be travelling to the Island. If you live in Penticton, you should not be going to Sun Peaks or Oliver or Kelowna right now. We need to only do those types of travel if it’s essential, and nothing more.”
B.C.’s COVID-19 guidelines state “all non-essential travel should be avoided.” Essential reasons for travel include commuting to and from work or travel for things like medical appointments.
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Henry said that while British Columbians should not stray too far afield, they should still find time to get outside each day.
“We know that there are things we can do safely, and mostly that means doing them outside and keeping our distance and our safety measures in place. For our own physical, but emotional and mental health, everybody should go outside every day, whether it is in your backyard or your immediate neighbourhood,” she said.
“Take your family, take your pet, but find some time to go outside and stay small and stay within your household, your work, or your school cohort only.”
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Last month, the province allowed for outdoor social gatherings of 10 or fewer people.
“Seeing a small number of people from outside your household outside is allowed, but it needs to be done in small ways, and we are discouraging even that right now,” Henry said.
Anyone who finds themselves wondering whether to engage in a particular activity should err on the side of caution, Henry said, and not do it.
The comments came after Henry reported 3,289 new cases of COVID-19 over the past three days, along with 18 new deaths.
Around half of the cases in the province are variants of concern, Henry said.
“This is, I don’t need to say, our third wave,” Henry said.
Henry noted that the province will be looking to vaccinate specific neighbourhoods that are COVID-19 hot spots, similar to mass vaccination effort in communities such as Prince Rupert and Whistler, and urged patience.
“We are focusing on where those areas of transmission are highest to start over the next few weeks, and it will spread out from there around the province,” Henry said.
— With files from The Canadian Press