Dr. Henry working on plan to slowly lift COVID-19 restrictions

'We will be able to move on'

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is suggesting COVID-19 restrictions will start to be loosened on the other side of the May Long Weekend.

During a news conference Monday, Henry said they are working on a plan to lift restrictions, but urged the public to follow the rules until then. The bans on indoor dining and travel restrictions are set to expire on May 25 and it is not clear at this point if they will be extended or how they will be altered.

“The virus continues to circulate and we have to do all we can to stop those transmissions as we are all developing this protection,” she said, referring to the rapidly expanding vaccine effort that has now immunized 55 per cent of residents with one dose.

“But after this, we will be able to move on and move ahead. We will be reviewing the number of people vaccinated, the peak at three-week effectiveness, as well as the level of community transmission over the next few days to determine where we can go from here.”

“There is a plan that we will be presenting to you. Until then, we all need to hold the line.”

She said the loosening of restrictions will happen gradually and slowly, with specific mention of indoor religious gatherings, youth and adult sports, indoor dining and travel of sectors that are "being worked out."

Residents shouldn't expect things to change all at once and restrictions to be lifted en masse on the morning of May 25, she said.

Henry also tempered expectations by noting the virus may not be fully behind us as summer arrives.

“I think we are in a good place in B.C., we have seen that the measures that we know work have made a difference — we are starting to see our curve come down," she said, but added that "all bets are off" if the situation changes globally.

“We need to understand that as we go into the next respiratory season, so next fall, we may have to change some of the things that we are doing again.”

She said it is also possible the virus could mutate to become infectious for vaccinated people, something she called "a worry" should the global vaccination effort not stamp out the spread of the virus first.

B.C. on Monday announced 1,360 new coronavirus cases, including 126 in the Interior Health region, in the past three days. Fourteen COVID-19 deaths were confirmed.

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