New regulatory health measures ordered on Oct. 14, for the Northern Health Authority region do not extend to Prince Rupert or Haida Gwaii, the health authority announced.
Areas also excluded from the orders are Kitimat, Terrace, Stikine, Telegraph Creek, Snow Country and Nisga’a, which are all local health areas west of Kitwanga.
Northern Health is introducing new health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect health services for most of the region, it stated in a press release.
“The Delta variant is leading to faster transmission and more severe outcomes for people in communities with lower vaccination rates, including younger people. Immunization remains the most effective prevention against COVID-19. With a large unvaccinated population, these additional orders will provide additional protection.
“Areas such as the Northwest where vaccination rates are high, and transmission is low will be exempted from the new orders at this time. They will still be subject to the current B.C.’s Restart Step 3 requirements and the existing Provincial Health Officer order or Northern Medical Health Officer order,” the health authority stated.
Northern Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jong Kim, said until more people become vaccinated orders need to be in place to protect the most vulnerable and limit the spread.
“Hospitals in Northern Health are overstretched as beds become filled with COVID-19 patients, primarily unvaccinated. People needing critical care are being transferred to other regions of the province. Everyone needs to get immunized to help keep our hospitals open for treating people with other illnesses,” he said.
According to the BC CDC epidemiology mapping for the period of Oct. 3rd to 9th, the number of lab-confirmed cases in Prince Rupert was 15, with 54 in Terrace, 18 in Kitimat, 73 in Smithers, one in Nisga’a and one in Haida Gwaii. As of Oct. 14, there are 677 active cases of the virus in the Northern Health Region, with 87 hospitalized and a further 18 in critical care. The number of cases reported for the 24 hour period up to 4 p.m. on Oct. 14 was 129 in the health region.
The new orders affecting the regions, except the North Coast, are effective midnight on Oct. 14 and include:
Personal gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, are restricted to fully vaccinated people, including at private residences and vacation accommodation.
Indoor gathering: up to five people are permitted.
Outdoor gathering: up to 25 people are permitted.
All indoor and outdoor organized events require a safety plan and for attendees to wear a mask and present their BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated.
Indoor event: up to 50 people are permitted.
Outdoor event: up to 100 people are permitted.
Worship services: virtual services are required.
Fast-food restaurants and unlicensed cafés without table service can provide take-out only or require patrons to present the BC Vaccine card showing they are fully vaccinated.
Licensed establishments and those with table service must not serve alcohol between 10 p.m. -9 a.m. and must require patrons to present the BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated.
Bars and nightclubs (no meal service) will be closed.
Sport events spectators (indoor and outdoor) are limited to 50 per cent capacity, must have a safety plan, and require attendees to wear masks and present their BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated.
These measures will remain in place until Nov. 19 at midnight and may be subject to extension if cases remain high and vaccination rates remain low.
In addition to these measures, people are strongly recommended to stay in their own community.
“We are under immense pressure in our facilities that is fueled by an unvaccinated population,” Northern Health president and CEO, Cathy Ulrich said. “We continue to encourage all people age 12 and up to get immunized.”
Not further restricted by the new measures, but continuing to require attendees to wear masks and to present their BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated:
All indoor fitness classes allowed, normal capacity.
Gyms and recreation facilities, normal capacity.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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