VANCOUVER -- Health officials in British Columbia are banning events with more than 50 people in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The much stricter restrictions were announced Monday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who previously allowed for events with fewer than 250 attendees.

"We have moved that now to cancelling all gatherings greater than 50 people," Henry said. "That's aligned with what we're seeing in the United States."

That includes indoor and outdoor sporting events, conferences, meetings, religious gatherings, according to the government.

Officials acknowledged the impact of the cancellations on businesses and individuals, but stressed that avoiding large social gatherings for the time being is a crucial measure in the fight against the virus.

"This is not forever, but it is important for now and for the foreseeable future – for the next few weeks," Henry said.

Authorities also revealed there have been three more COVID-19 deaths in B.C., all residents of the same North Vancouver care home where Canada's first COVID-19 fatality was recorded earlier this month, and 30 more confirmed infections.

That brings the provincial total to 103, and the Canadian total to more than 400.