British Columbia’s new COVID 19 restrictions to curb Omicron variant come into effect

British Columbia’s new COVID 19 restrictions to curb Omicron variant come into effect
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New COVID-19 restrictions ranging from audience capacities on large venues to the number of people able to attend indoor gatherings are in effect today.

The health measures are scheduled to last until Jan. 31.

Health officials say the restrictions are being implemented over fears of the Omicron variant overwhelming B.C. hospitals.

The B.C. government is cancelling sports tournaments and New Year’s Eve parties as well as restricting capacity in large indoor venues as COVID-19 cases surge in the province.

Another new health order announced Friday is an amended vaccine card program requiring events of any size to require the BC Vaccine Card. Currently, only events of 50 people or must have people produce their vaccination records.

The province will also once again restrict movement at restaurants, meaning seated groups can not get up and mingle with other groups.

Officials said they were suspending all sports tournaments over the holidays as well because tournaments have been a significant contributor to the spread of COVID-19.

New Year’s Eve parties where people can come together and mingle have also been ordered cancelled because such parties have been super-spreader events in the past, officials said. However, restaurants will still be permitted to open for dinner on Dec. 31 — with no restrictions in place on operating hours or alcohol sales.

The province said it will also emphasize to the retail sector that businesses should have COVID-19 safety plans in place for holiday sales.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the Omicron variant is adding new and more complex challenges to managing the pandemic.

B.C. reported 302 cases of the Omicron variant on Friday, up from 135 on Thursday.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are expected to announce changes to B.C.’s rapid testing policy on Tuesday.

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