New public health orders affecting a portion of the Fraser Health region have been put in place today (Sept. 28) in order to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and increase the vaccination rate in the area.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, announced the new restrictions Tuesday during a press conference. The restrictions, which Henry said are similar to what was previously done in the Interior and Northern Health regions, affect the East Fraser Valley region.
The East Fraser Valley is comprised of the following communities: Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Agassiz-Harrison.
Henry said those communities are seeing "increased numbers of people becoming ill with COVID, particularly people who are not yet vaccinated and that is putting a strain on our hospitals."
The provincial health officer also pointed out that it's not just people with COVID who are facing challenges receiving care at area hospitals, but that also the increased case count is affecting other people needing care, whose surgeries may have to be postponed.
Henry, along with Health Minister Adrian Dix, noted the East Fraser Valley's vaccination rate needs to go up in order to curb the spread of the virus, as it moves between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
"We simply have to raise those vaccination rates," said Dix.
To that end, the new public health orders affecting the East Fraser Valley region of Fraser Health include moving up the date of when two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine — i.e. being "fully vaccinated" — are required for accessing recreational activities, businesses and venues. That date is now Sept. 28, moved up from Oct. 26.
The new restrictions include the following:
Private, household gatherings limited to five additional people or one other household
Outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people outdoors, unless all of the participants are fully vaccinated
Organized events, conferences and similar limited 10 people inside, 50 outside, unless all are fully vaccinated
All ticketed events and venues are only able to admit fully vaccinated individuals
Indoor adult sports, gyms and similar are only able to admit fully vaccinated individuals
Outdoor adult sports are limited to 50 people unless all are fully vaccinated
Access to the events and venues will continue to be through the BC Vaccine Card.
Additionally, all events in the East Fraser Valley area must keep a contact list of guests as well as have WorkSafeBC-approved COVID-19 safety plans in place.
Henry added that because public health is seeing increased transmission in indoor workplaces in that region, they are stepping up the need for COVID safety plans, and mandating that masks must be worn in all indoor workplaces, with some exceptions due to safety issues or barriers that are in place between employees.