COVID-19 restrictions expanded across entire Interior Health area

People 12+ in the Interior Health region must wear masks again in indoor, public spaces.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry | B.C. Government

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, Henry announced beginning midnight, these restrictions will be expanded to the rest of the Interior.

She noted that health-care 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 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 five people, or one other household
Indoor seated organized gatherings limited to 50 people, with COVID safety plan
Outdoor organized gatherings limited to 50 people, with COVID safety plan
High-intensity indoor group fitness classes suspended
Non-essential travel into and out of the Interior strongly discouraged
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.