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COVID-19 restrictions expanded across entire Interior Health area

Virus restrictions across IH

UPDATE: 3:45 p.m.

Interior Health has confirmed that COVID-19 restrictions specifically related to restaurants that were re-introduced in the Central Okanagan earlier this month have not been expanded to the rest of the Interior.

These measures, which include a maximum of six people at a table and liquor service ending at 10 p.m., will remain solely in the Central Okanagan local health area, which includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland and Lake Country.

A number of other restrictions, including mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and limits on gathering sizes, have been expanded to the rest of the Interior Health Authority:

  • Mandatory masks for indoor, public spaces for those over 12
  • Outdoor personal gatherings limited to 50 people
  • Indoor personal gatherings limited to 10 people, or one other household
  • Indoor seated organized gatherings limited to 50 people, with COVID safety plan
  • Outdoor organized gatherings limited to 100 people, with COVID safety plan
  • High-intensity indoor group fitness classes suspended
  • Non-essential travel into and out of the Interior strongly discouraged

**This story has been updated to reflect that indoor personal gathering are limited to 10 people, rather than the five as first reported. Dr. Henry misspoke during the announcement of the measures Friday.


UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.

Citing the movement of wildfire evacuees across the Interior and rising COVID-19 case numbers across several Interior communities, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday she will be expanding most of the Central Okanagan virus restrictions to the rest of the Interior Health authority.

Earlier this summer, the mask requirement for public indoor spaces was re-implemented in the Central Okanagan, followed by further restrictions on gathering sizes and fitness classes. On Friday afternoon, Dr. Henry announced beginning midnight, these restrictions will be expanded to the rest of the Interior.

She noted that healthcare resources in places like Nelson, Vernon, Kamloops, Keremeos and the Thompson-Shuswap region have been strained in recent weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Thousands of homes have been evacuated due to wildfires in recent weeks, and Dr. Henry said this has led to further transmission of the virus as people seek shelter elsewhere in the Interior.

The new expanded orders to the rest of the Interior include:

  • Mandatory masks for indoor, public spaces for those over 12
  • Outdoor personal gatherings limited to 50 people
  • Indoor personal gatherings limited to 10 people, or one other household
  • Indoor seated organized gatherings limited to 50 people, with COVID safety plan
  • Outdoor organized gatherings limited to 100 people, with COVID safety plan
  • High-intensity indoor group fitness classes suspended
  • Non-essential travel into and out of the Interior strongly discouraged

Dr. Henry did not mention expanding the Central Okanagan's restrictions on restaurants – like maximum six people to a table and liquor service ending at 10 p.m. – to the rest of the Interior.

She once again noted that the majority of new cases are occurring among pockets of unvaccinated people. Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that starting next week, they'll be reporting the percentage of new cases who are unvaccinated on a daily basis.


ORIGINAL: noon

The provincial government and Interior Health are set to provide an update on the pandemic within the BC Interior this afternoon.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are being joined by representatives from IH for the news conference at 2:30 p.m.

For weeks now, the Central Okanagan has seen soaring case counts driven primarily by the delta variant, leading to localized health restrictions.

New data this week from the BCCDC showed 922 cases in the Central Okanagan between Aug. 8 and 14, breaking the record for the most ever in the region for the third week in a row.

New infections have started to plateau in recent days but remain astronomical, so it is unlikely any of the local restrictions will be lifted. At this point, it is anyone’s guess if more restrictions will be put in place.

Castanet will carry the news conference live in this story.



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