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B.C. extends its 'stronger' provincewide restrictions in wake of surging COVID-19 cases

"This will be a surprise to no one."
B.C. health officials have extended the "stronger" provincewide restrictions in the wake of surging cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) across the province. Photo via Flickr / Government of BC

B.C. health officials have extended the "stronger" provincewide restrictions in the wake of surging cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) across the province.

The provincial public health orders went into effect at midnight on March 30 and were set to remain in effect until April 19. However, these restrictions will be kept in place until further notice based on direction from the Public Health Officer (PHO).

Premier John Horgan announced during a live press conference on Monday, April 19 that the current public health order curbing indoor food and drink service at B.C. establishments, set to expire at 11:59 p.m. tonight, would now be in place a further five weeks, expiring after the Victoria Day holiday on May 24

Additionally, indoor, adult group fitness activities of any kind will continue to be suspended. Currently, gyms and fitness centres are restricted to individual or one-on-one activities only (i.e. one-on-one personal training).

Indoor in-person religious gatherings and worship services of any size continue to be prohibited. However, outdoor services under the current variance may continue. 

B.C. Premier John Horgan admonished party-goers in today's COVID-19 update, adding orders that will be issued this week will restrict people's ability to leave their health authorities.

Horgan said that no new travel restrictions will be put in place today, but he added that "this is not the time to pack up the Winnebago and travel around British Columbia.

"At this point, non-essential travel should be limited to local travel only."

Horgan added that the extension of the "circuit breaker" restrictions "will be a surprise to no one."

Safety recommendations

In addition to the orders, the PHO strongly recommends:

  • Working from home whenever possible, unless it is essential to be in the workplace
  • Keeping your child home from school if they feel sick or have any sign of illness
  • Getting testing immediately if you or anyone in your family feels sick
  • Avoiding all non-essential travel

B.C. again sets records for most COVID-19 patients in hospitals, and in ICU

The number of people fighting for their lives with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals continues to hit record highs. As of April 19, there are 441 such people, up by a net total of 16, compared with the most recent update, on April 16.

The number of those in intensive care units (ICU) also keeps hitting levels not seen before. There are 138 people now in ICU fighting COVID-19 in B.C. 

New cases continue to be high, with 2,960 cases in the past three days: 1,027 on April 17, 933 on April 18, and 1,000 on April 19. In total, 120,040 people have contracted COVID-19 in B.C., with more than 90.7%, or 108,918 people having recovered. 

Another eight people have died from the virus in the past three days, raising the province's death toll to 1,538. One of those individuals was a two-year-old child who had an underlying health condition.

With files from Glen Korstrom and Lindsay William-Ross.