B.C. Cowichan Tribes lift shelter-in-place order after more than two months

Shelter-in-place order lifted

British Columbia's largest First Nation, the Cowichan Tribes, has lifted a shelter-in-place order more than two months after it was enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The community based in Duncan on Vancouver Island says in a statement on its website that the order was lifted on Friday, but members must continue to follow public health guidelines.

Residents were ordered to stay at home on Jan. 6 amid an outbreak of the virus and barriers and checkpoints were also set up to restrict access to residential areas.

There have been 269 COVID-19 cases in the First Nation since Dec. 31, of which 259 have recovered, six have died, three are in isolation and one is in hospital.

The Cowichan Tribes began administering 600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to elders in January and is holding first-dose clinics this week for all adult members on or off-reserve.

Associate health director Marnie Elliott says in a video posted to the Tribes' Facebook page that members can now have outdoor visits with 10 people, but they must be the same 10 people.

People can also go eat in restaurants with members of their household and get haircuts, but they must stay local and not have indoor gatherings of any kind, she adds.

"We're asking that you are still not going to be visiting in each others' homes. Kids can get together to play outside and have that connection again, but please no sleepovers," she says.

"We are still encouraging that there's no travel, so stay within our community."

Fairlie Mendoza, a Ts'ewulhtun Health Centre nurse, says doctors will be at the vaccine clinics on Wednesday and Thursday to give advice to anyone unsure about the shot.

She also urges people to continue getting tested if they believe they may have symptoms of COVID-19 and to be prepared to self-isolate to stop transmission of the disease.

There are more than 4,900 members of the Cowichan Tribes.

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