British Columbia

Hockey games, concerts, movie theatres back to 100% capacity for fully vaccinated people in B.C.

Restrictions placed on indoor and outdoor gatherings are being lifted in British Columbia as the two-dose vaccine requirement for people attending them kicks in.

Restrictions on indoor seating to be lifted effective Oct. 25

Restrictions on indoor gatherings requiring a vaccine passport are being lifted as the two-dose vaccine requirements go into effect in B.C. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Restrictions placed on indoor and outdoor gatherings are being lifted in British Columbia as the two-dose vaccine requirement for people attending them kicks in.

The revision to the provincial health order is effective Monday, Oct. 25, and comes as two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are required for anyone over 12 to access those gatherings.

The order had previously restricted capacity limits to 50 per cent for indoor, organized gatherings, but as of Monday, these events will be allowed to operate at 100 per cent capacity in places where the B.C. vaccine card is in effect, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Tuesday during a live news conference.

However, regional health orders and restrictions currently in effect in Northern Health, Interior Health and the eastern Fraser Valley will remain in place.

These changes apply to:

  • Indoor sporting events.
  • Indoor concerts, theatre, movie theatres, dance and symphony events.
  • Indoor organized events such as weddings, funeral receptions outside of a funeral home and organized parties.

Henry said not all residents may be able to safely attend those events, including immunocompromised people who might not feel ready to be exposed to others in a large group setting. Mask requirements for indoor settings like these are still in place.

The order to remain seated at a table in restaurants and pubs will also be lifted Monday, though indoor mask requirements will remain in effect for all indoor gatherings and for people moving around within restaurants and pubs. 

Henry said that by ensuring only fully vaccinated people are allowed into more populated venues, the risk of transmission will be reduced. 

"We are not seeing transmission in those settings where the vaccine card is used, where people are checking vaccine status." 

Henry said officials are looking into what other restrictions can be lifted as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also shared their frustration with efforts to crack down on businesses flouting
COVID-19 safety rules.

"We're disappointed to be at this place because health authorities, as you can imagine, are unbelievably busy,'' Dix said.

The Fraser Health Authority is seeking an injunction against a restaurant in Hope that refuses to follow COVID-19 health protocols.

"It shows people they don't respect their neighbours, they don't respect their business neighbours, they don't respect their community,'' Henry said of the restaurant.

Dix said he understands other businesses may be frustrated by the delay in punishing the offending business, but the government is committed to cracking down on those who refuse to follow health orders.

COVID-19 in schools

During the news conference, health officials announced that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) will now provide data on COVID-19 in schools on a monthly basis with the first report released Tuesday, Oct. 19. 

Each time a student or staff member receives a positive COVID-19 test, public health contact tracing will begin. If the COVID-positive person has been in the school while infectious, a notification will be sent to parents alerting them of a possible exposure, Henry said.

As of Oct. 19, 1,388 notifications of potential exposures for the current school year have been sent to 510 schools.

The BCCDC report says cases in young children, aged five to 11, peaked in late September but are now trending downward. It says the initial increase may have been due to increased testing among children as other respiratory viruses circulated at the beginning of the school year. 

Most children are at low risk for getting COVID-19, Henry said, and if they do, they tend to have milder symptoms.

She said there have been 94 COVID-19 hospitalizations in children aged five to 17 since the beginning of the pandemic, 10 of which required critical care. There were no deaths reported in that age group. 

The report also says rising cases in children have not resulted in a significant rise in hospitalizations.  

As of Oct. 14, 82 per cent of eligible children in B.C. between the ages of 12 and 17 had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 73 per cent were fully vaccinated. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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