Interior Health-specific restrictions being lifted, Henry says, because of BC Vaccine Card program

IH-specific restrictions lifted

UPDATE 5:55 p.m.

Interior Health is lifting a number of coronavirus restrictions for the region alongside the rollout of the provincial vaccine passport system.

“Thank you to everyone across the Interior who continues to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Interior Health president and CEO, Susan Brown. “However, we can’t let our guard down now. Getting vaccinated and being able to show proof of vaccination is how we can now resume some events and activities safely and with more people.”

High-intensity group exercise classes in the Interior are now permitted, provided all participants and instructors are fully vaccinated with two doses.

In the Central Okanagan, restrictions on liquor service are lifting and alcohol service may resume after 10 p.m. effective today.

Starting Monday, the new restrictions around gatherings and events are:

· For smaller organized events, participants will be required to show proof of vaccination (minimum one dose) until Oct. 24, 2021. By Oct. 24, full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Indoor events may be held with up to 50 people, and outdoor events may be up to 100 people.

· Proof of full vaccination will be required for participants at all large events, consistent with Step 3 of B.C.’s Restart Plan. This means indoor events may be held that include 50 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity (whichever is greater); outdoor events may include 5,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity (whichever is greater).

The following regional medical health officer orders remain in place across the Interior region:

· Gatherings in vacation rentals are limited to five guests or one other household.

· Outdoor personal gatherings (e.g., birthday parties, backyard BBQs, block parties) are limited to no more than 50 people, and indoor personal gatherings are limited to five guests or one other household.

Interior Health says those measures will remain in place until the region experiences lower cases and higher vaccination rates.

ORIGINAL 3:35 p.m.

Gathering limits and restrictions previously specific to the Interior Health area are being lifted, according to B.C.’s top doctor, thanks to the provincial vaccine card program that came into effect on Monday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement on Monday afternoon.

In July, provincial health officials announced a series of new measures for the Central Okanagan due to increasing case counts. Those restrictions — gathering size limits and rules about social visits — were extended to all of Interior Health on Aug. 20.

Indoor events in Interior Health had been limited to a maximum of 50 people.

Interior Health says it will be releasing details on what restrictions are lifting shortly. This story will be updated.

Henry said the BC Vaccine Card program, which took effect on Monday, meant the gathering restrictions in the Interior are no longer needed where the vaccine passport system is in place. She also said other restrictions could be lifted in the coming weeks.

“My hope is that in the weeks ahead we will be able to remove things like capacity limits,” she said.

Henry also announced a vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers in B.C. Anyone seeking exemptions will have their circumstances reviewed by the province, she said.

In addition, Henry said, B.C. will begin offering third doses this week to 15,000 exceptionally vulnerable people. The move comes after federal officials last week recommended a booster shot for certain immunocompromised groups.

Henry said the people in need of a booster shot will be contacted by health officials.

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