VANCOUVER -- Health officials are encouraging people in B.C.'s Lower Mainland to get back into the mindset they had in the early months of the pandemic – at least when it comes to socializing. 

Addressing her strict new public health order on Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said residents of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions need to resume virtual visits and consider postponing important events like wedding receptions.

"I am directing now that we need to think about the things we did in the spring – socialize virtually, check in on those that you're close to, plan parties and celebrations for next year when it is safe for us to get together again," she said. "We've seen this before. We need to start going back to that."

But there will be some key differences this month from March and April, when many stores and businesses were forced to close down. While part of Henry's latest order applies to group fitness classes, she said the vast majority of businesses "can and should continue to stay open with their safety measures in place."

She said people can continue going out to eat at restaurants – with members of their "core bubble," which generally refers to one's own household – provided they follow all COVID-19 precautions.

But things like having people over for dinner, and even meeting your bubble to socialize outdoors, are being discouraged throughout the region until the afternoon of Nov. 23. Henry suggested people consider dropping off a meal at a friend's home as a way to keep feeling connected over the next two weeks.

The provincial health officer said the tough new orders are necessary to address the province's alarming surge in cases, including nearly 1,000 infections identified from Saturday to Monday alone.

Because of COVID-19's incubation period, which can last up to two weeks, the cases being identified are the result of gatherings – such as birthdays, weddings, and other social events – that could have happened as early as late-October.

"What we need to do now is to break those chains of transmission," Henry said. "We will start seeing those numbers come down, reflecting that we are no longer exposing large numbers of people."

The reset they hope to achieve with the strict new rules will also protect critical services, including medical treatments and surgeries, from being impacted by the pandemic, Henry said.

Earlier in the day, B.C. Premier John Horgan threatened that even more stringent rules could come next if the public is unable to bend the province's curve back down.