Capacity limits will lift on Monday for organized gatherings and events in B.C. including sports games, indoor concerts, movie theatres and events like weddings and funerals.
The provincial health officer order restricting capacity limits to 50 per cent will be revised in places where the BC Vaccine Card is in place and proof of vaccination status is checked. The requirement to remain seated at a table in restaurants and pubs will be lifted, but indoor mask requirements remain in effect for all indoor gatherings and events.
Capacity limits remain in effect where regional orders are in place, including Fraser East and parts of Northern and Interior Health regions.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a press conference that the reduction of capacity limits was part of the province’s desire to “leverage the benefits of the vaccine card,” and that additional restrictions may be removed in the next few weeks.
“We had always intended to lift the capacity restrictions in these seated events, so the hockey game, the theatre, movie theatres, once we got to the point where it was only fully vaccinated people that were in these settings,” said Henry. “So it doesn’t reduce the risk to zero, it means that we are mitigating the risk. We know that the risk of people who are fully vaccinated transmitting the virus and getting sick is much, much less so that reduces the risk enough that we are confident we can, when we get to that point, have more people in those environments.”
She added that for people whose immune systems are not strong, this may not be the time to go to a venue at full capacity.
“But we have not been seeing large outbreaks with the measures that we’ve had in place now in those settings where it’s controlled, where people are actually checking vaccine status, and where people are wearing masks and staying seated,” she said. “It’s not taking off in the ways that we have seen in the past, with the exceptions of some of the communities where we’ve seen.”
Henry also provided a report on COVID-19 in schools, saying there has been a decrease in cases among young children and school-aged children across the province. Hospitalizations among children remain low, with five children aged zero to four being admitted in the last week, in addition to one child in the five-to-11 age group and one in the 12-to-17 age group.
Analysis of COVID-19 clusters in schools shows that most were in the Interior Health region, with 80 total clusters during the first five weeks of school. A total of 314 cases were linked to those clusters, amounting for 28 per cent of the 1,123 COVID-19 cases among K to 12 students and school staff in the region during that period. Most clusters were slightly larger than the average cluster size during 2020-2021 school year, increasing from one to two last year to three this year.
Health authorities also reported 560 new cases of COVID-19 today, eight of which are epidemiologically linked. Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded 198,838 cases.
Of the new cases, 80 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 208 in the Fraser Health region, 61 in the Island Health region, 79 in the Interior Health region, 131 in the Northern Health region and one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada.
There are 4,913 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 382 of those people are hospitalized, 146 of whom are in intensive care.
To date, 8,073,677 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C.; 3,870,709 of those are second doses.
This means that 89.7 per cent of adults and 89.2 per cent of people aged 12 and older have received their first dose of a vaccine. In addition, 84.2 per cent of adults and 83.5 per cent of those aged 12 and older have received two doses.
Sadly, there were five new virus-related deaths reported today, bringing that total to 2,086. Of those who died, two lived in the Fraser Health region, one in the Island Health region and two in the Northern Health region.
Health authorities reported one new healthcare facility outbreak. Active outbreaks continue at 14 long-term care facilities, five assisted or independent living facilities and four acute care facilities.
From Oct. 11 to 17, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 67.1 per cent of cases and from Oct. 4 to 17 they accounted for 75.5 per cent of hospitalizations.
Past week cases (Oct. 11 to 17)—Total 3,997
• Not vaccinated: 2,407 (60.2 per cent)
• Partially vaccinated: 277 (6.9 per cent)
• Fully vaccinated: 1,313 (32.8 per cent)
Past two weeks cases hospitalized (Oct. 4-17)—Total 384
• Not vaccinated: 268 (69.8 per cent)
• Partially vaccinated: 22 (5.7 per cent)
• Fully vaccinated: 94 (24.5 per cent)
Past week, cases per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Oct. 11 to 17)
• Not vaccinated: 281.7
• Partially vaccinated: 81.2
• Fully vaccinated: 31.1
Past two weeks, cases hospitalized per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Oct. 4 to 17)
• Not vaccinated: 45.2
• Partially vaccinated: 9.7
• Fully vaccinated: 2.1
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel