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Will COVID-19 restrictions come back in the fall? Here's what B.C.'s top doc had to say.

"We have to be ready to bring some tools back," said Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Many British Columbians are welcoming the end of many of the province's COVID-19 health orders but Dr. Bonnie Henry says they may not be gone for good.

Many British Columbians are welcoming the end of most of the province's coronavirus-related health orders.

But are these restrictions really gone for good? 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in the last regularly-scheduled COVID-19 update for the foreseeable future on Thursday (March 10) that B.C. is at a transition phase in the pandemic where there is a lower risk to the public. 

As a result, the province is dropping the mandatory mask requirement in most indoor settings as well as the overnight camp and youth order and the capacity limits on faith gatherings. Long-term care visits are also being restored, albeit with precautions.

And only four weeks later, on April 8, the province will drop the BC Vaccine Card requirement for most events and businesses and post-secondary school residencies will no longer require proof of vaccination.

But Henry emphasized that health officials may bring public health measures back depending on the current epidemiological situation in the province.

"While today is a really positive step forward, we have to be ready to bring some tools back, if necessary, depending on the situation as it changes," she explained.

Since COVID-19 will continue to circulate in communities for some time to come, the health officer noted that must be managed on an ongoing basis, similar to other viruses, such as influenza. 

"We have systematic early warning signals through things like our wastewater surveillance, which will be expanding to more communities and to include more pathogens, more bugs," she said. 

Public health will also be doing systematic targeted serological surveillance, where samples of blood are taken from people of different age groups to determine levels of immunity. Health officials will use the data gathered through these surveillance measures to reevaluate if orders need to be reinstated.

For now, however, Henry said it is "unlikely" there will be a spike in cases because of the high level of immunity in the province.

"That's why I'm looking really toward the fall in our respiratory season because that's where the higher risk potential is," she noted. "And there may be other things that will need to put in place."

Photo via Photo via Government of British Columbia

Why is B.C. dropping so many COVID-19 safety measures? Find out what B.C.'s top doctor had to say.