B.C.’s top doctor says that the province will likely be able to drop additional layers of protection as the weather warms up and transmission of COVID-19 trends downward.
Dr. Bonnie Henry discussed B.C.’s next steps Tuesday as other provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan lift remaining COVID-19 restrictions such as mask mandates.
Others, like Ontario, have officially dropped their vaccine card programs. But B.C.’s public health orders on mask mandates and the vaccine card remain in effect.
Henry said with the rate transmission of the virus in decline, it’s relieving “intense pressure” on hospitals and the health care system, though many areas still have significant and widespread transmission and as such, B.C.’s current rules will remain in place.
“Those protections we have in place right now remain a necessary part of our strategy, for now,” Henry said.
But she dropped hints Tuesday that some big changes may be coming in time for spring break, calling it a “natural transition time.”
“I’m very optimistic we’re moving to a better place rapidly and we’ll have more to say about that very soon,” she said.
If B.C. chooses to drop masks and vaccine cards by March 15, a date it’s previously given for when orders would be reassessed, that would put it in line with many other provinces.
Manitoba is dropping its mask mandate on March 15, New Brunswick is getting rid of its mandate around the same time and Quebec will drop its vaccine card program on March 14. Newfoundland is dropping both masks and the vaccine card on March 14, and Nova Scotia plans to do the same March 21.
While a rapid decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions in B.C. is good news, Henry said the positive outlook comes with a caveat that things could once again change by fall.
“We know there will be respiratory virus resurgence,” said Henry. “We see there’s a pattern to COVID as well so we may need these additional layers of protection next fall.”