Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced she will be extending the current COVID-19 provincial health orders until British Columbia sees a diminished impact from the virus.
During a live press conference on Friday morning, Dr. Henry said that she is hoping the continued restrictions will help “buy ourselves more time” as officials work to get the immunization program back on track and push case numbers down.
“By spending less time with others, by staying local, using our layers of protection we are bending our curve, slowly and steadily,” said Dr. Henry on Friday. “But we need to protect the progress we have made since the start of this year and not squander our success.”
The restrictions, which were implemented towards the end of 2020, put limitations on gatherings in people’s homes, suspend events in public and private venues, and require the cessation of sports activities.
Dr. Henry didn’t provide an end date for when the restrictions would be lifted but instead suggested she will be continually reviewing the COVID-19 landscape and assessing the need for the current health orders.
The provincial health officer says the need for these restrictions will be assessed based on the “prevalence of the virus, any new information about transmission and the progress of our vaccination supply and our immunization program.”
Dr. Henry points out that the restrictions help take pressure off B.C. hospitals, while also giving health officials time to understand more about the COVID-19 variants that have appeared within the province.
“Just one or two super-spreading events in our network or slight increase in our contacts…can quickly counteract all of our progress and wor,” she said during her press conference.
“We want and need a smooth, flat path to the finish,” she added.
Dr. Henry appears to be eyeing the end of February to reassess the restrictions, suggesting that will be a time to determine if more action is required or if the provincial health orders can be eased.
“Through our shared efforts and as long as we continue on this path, we can start planning for the return of activities at the end of this month,” noted Henry.
The provincial health officer says she is working with viaSport in hopes of getting youth sport up and running before March. She also says that officials are prepared to work with faith services as well to put plans in place for the safe return to gatherings, however, a timeline was not provided.
The extension of the restrictions on Friday came following a modelling presentation that showed the COVID-19 curve in B.C. slowly bending back down.