British Columbians will be able to go for a walk, have a picnic or have a coffee with a friend outdoors after health officials amended a rule allowing for up to 10 people to gather outdoors. But they won’t be able to buy booze after a certain time on St. Patrick’s Day.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the Gathering and Events health order has been amended effective immediately. Indoor gatherings that include people outside of your immediate family are still not permitted.
“This means your children can have a play date with their friends over the March break, but with their same group of friends, and if they’re in school, the group of friends that they’re in a cohort with at school,” Henry said during a Thursday COVID-19 update.
“You can meet friends outside and have a coffee, have a chat, have a connection, have a picnic in the park with your grandparents. Should you choose to meet with your family and friends, remember that those safety measures need to continue and need to be top of mind.”
Henry stressed the importance of continuing to follow all other public health orders including masking, hand-washing and physical distancing of six feet.
She also addressed another big event coming up: St. Patrick’s Day.
“We know that alcohol sales can be a part of people losing inhibitions and perhaps forgetting their COVID safety plans,” said Henry.
The government has put restrictions in place that will cease liquor sales, both on- and off-site, between 8 p.m. March 17 and 9 a.m. March 18 to discourage large gatherings.
“This will be very similar to the restrictions that we put in place over New Year’s, and that’s really to protect our businesses and to protect the people who work in those businesses as well as make sure that we don’t have an explosive increase in cases related to an event,” she said.
Henry also clarified that she is discouraging people from roaming around B.C. over the break.
“What we need to do is stay local. Explore your local community, explore your region.
“I do think over March break if you’re a family and you’re going to your cabin, and you’re self-contained, then that’s OK. But we really need to stick to our household, stick to our limited travel.”