British Columbia

'All gatherings are off the table' in B.C., but no new bans on the way, top doctor says

B.C.'s provincial health officer has no plans to follow other provinces and issue new orders on public gatherings, but she says any get togethers involving people who don't live in the same home are dangerous and need to end.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says intimate indoor get togethers are 'very dangerous' for spreading the virus

Dinner parties are out of the question during the COVID-19 outbreak in B.C. (Shutterstock / Syda Productions)

B.C.'s provincial health officer has no plans to follow other provinces and issue new orders on public gatherings, but she says any get-togethers involving people who don't live in the same home are dangerous and need to end.

Dr. Bonnie Henry made those comments Tuesday in response to questions about whether B.C. would follow the lead of Alberta, where gatherings of more than 15 people are banned, or Ontario, where the limit is just five people.

"Right now, all gatherings are off the table," Henry told reporters. "We're in that place where any time we get together with more than our household members or our families, we're putting ourselves at risk, particularly if we're going to be in contact with people who are older or more likely to have severe illness."

That means no dinner parties, even with your closest friends and neighbours, no play dates, no catch-ups over coffee, and no visiting with elderly parents. Any intimate indoor gathering is "very dangerous" and a high risk for spreading the novel coronavirus, Henry said.

B.C. has barred gatherings of more than 50 people since March 16.

Henry said that number isn't based on science, nor are the limits instituted by Alberta or Ontario. Instead, the limits are officials' best attempts to prevent outbreaks like the one that began with the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver earlier this month, or the one linked to a funeral home in Newfoundland.

"There is no number that is OK or safe right now. I'm not going to change the order just because we know that people interpret it in a variety of different ways," she said.

Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about approach to public gatherings

B.C.'s provincial health officer told reporters she has no plans to follow other provinces and issue new orders on public gatherings, but any get togethers involving people who don’t live in the same home need to end. 1:22

Henry also said she worries about how an order limiting gatherings any further would affect vulnerable populations.

"It's challenging for our homeless people, for example, where they may need to be in a setting together. It can be a focus for people persecuting people who have no place else to go," she said.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

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