Things just got serious in B.C. Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced that COVID-19 restrictions once limited to certain high-transmission zones have been extended across the province, effective immediately until midnight on December 7.
It took her more than 30 minutes to outline all the changes and new restrictions.
It's a lot to take in, and a lot has changed, so we can answer the most important questions here.
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What do the new restrictions cover?
They cover three main areas: social gatherings, workplaces, and group physical activities.
This means offices and restaurants, gyms and fitness classes, temples and churches, weddings and funerals.
Can I go to my regular worship services?
No. All religious gatherings have been halted, in consultation with faith leaders as Dr. Henry said, until December 7, which is three sets of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
What about weddings and funerals?
These can go ahead but in very restricted ways. They can be gatherings of no more than 10, and that includes the officiant. So that means that an average wedding can have up to seven guests, a funeral up to nine.
Baptisms and similar religious and culturally significant rites can also be held, with the same restrictions. No receptions or other social gatherings outside the ceremonies themselves are allowed.
Can I go to my place in Tofino?
While it is not legally restricted, Dr. Henry strongly recommends against any unessential travel from one municipality or region to another.
What if I live in one town and need to buy something in the next town over?
Yes. Dr. Henry considers this essential travel. This also applies if you have to commute because you live in Surrey, for instance, and work in Vancouver.
When do I have to wear a mask now?
Everywhere outside your home with the exception of when you're eating, drinking, or are at your place of work and are separated from your co-workers by either two metres or a physical partition.
If you work in an office at a desk, you can remove your mask while at your desk, but need to put it back on when you go to the bathroom, or take the elevator. If your work involves dealing with customers, you must keep your mask on at all times.
If you're a customer, you can be refused service if you're not wearing a mask.
People who are physically unable to put on or take off their masks by themselves are exempt, as are children under the age of two.
What about schools?
Schools will remain open, with a new rapid response team to deal with any exposures that happen in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health region schools.
Can I go to the gym?
If you have hot yoga, spin classes, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), no. Dance classes, martial arts classes and cheerleading practices are ok. And as long as your gym has a COVID-19 safety plan in place, you can go work out and continue with your trainer.
What happens if I don't obey the rules?
Under the Emergency Program Act, you could be fined by police or other enforcement officials, who may or may not be wearing uniforms. There will also be environmental health officers ensuring businesses are playing by the new rules.