Restaurants open, but New Year's Eve parties and events cancelled in B.C. this year

Dr. Bonnie Henry says all parties are cancelled again this year.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said all parties and events will be cancelled on New Year's Eve 2021 but restaurants may serve dinner in the new order on gatherings.| Photo via supersizer / Getty Images

New Year's Eve revellers may have to rethink their party plans this year. 

All New Year's Eve parties and events are cancelled in the wake of surging cases of the newly identified Omicron variant across Canada. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing on Friday (Dec. 17) afternoon that all parties and events will be cancelled on the big night but restaurants may serve dinner. 

"All New Year's Eve parties will be suspended, no matter their size," she said. "Restaurants can have new year's meals but we also have some amendments to the food and liquor premises order that will come in to place on Monday."

Restaurants may continue to operate at full capacity but guests must remain at their table and they must wear face masks when not seated.

"So this goes back to the last few waves of this virus of this pandemic, where you go with your group of people to the restaurant, you stay at the table together," she explained.  "There's no mingling and standing and mixing of tables and this will apply for New Year's Eve as well."

Restaurants can have a special New Year's Eve dinner and B.C. will not put any restrictions in place on serving alcohol or hours of operation. However, guests cannot mix between tables or dance.

Effective Dec. 19 at midnight,  Henry said all indoor gatherings will be limited to one household plus 10 other individuals or one other household. Everyone who attends a gathering must be vaccinated; no unvaccinated people may attend parties or social gatherings. 

The new restrictions will be in place until Jan. 31 at 11:59 p.m. when health officials will reevaluate the risk to public safety.

The federal government recently announced new travel restrictions related to the threat of Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. Fully vaccinated individuals who travelled outside of the country or the United States within 14 days of their entry to Canada may be selected for arrival testing. They must quarantine until they receive a negative test result, too.