VANCOUVER -- Speaking bluntly during a news conference Thursday, B.C.'s health minister issued warnings for event hosts, and a suggestion to friends thinking of attending those parties.

Adrian Dix spoke after the province's top doctor announced 78 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, and revealed modelling data that suggests young people are increasingly impacted in B.C. 

He said private parties have been a "significant source" of problems in the province that was once a leader in Canada when it came to its COVID-19 curve. Earlier this week, B.C.'s per-capita active case load was higher than Ontario's.

"We have, of course, in our law and our society a respect for people's rights within their property," Dix said in the afternoon update.

"But I have to say this: that if you're thinking of organizing a party, especially one involving alcohol, where there's no specific limits on distancing that you're putting in place, you should not do so."

Addressing those who've been invited to such parties, he suggested they re-evaluate their relationships.

"Whether or not you consider the friendship is one question, but my advice is not to go."

Dix also addressed people who run restaurants and bars, some of which have been the sites of recent COVID-19 exposures.

He said health officials think most people are doing a good job, and appreciates that they are sometimes on the "front lines" of challenging situations. "But I want to make it clear that this weekend, if you have banquet halls where a private party takes place, you will be seeing environmental health officers, and people in public health," Dix said.

"And it's our expectation that the limits on the number of people at parties will be in place this weekend. Everywhere in B.C. that we can get at, we're going to ensure that that expectation is followed everywhere."

He called the message a warning, and said if that expectation isn't met, "consequences must follow."

Earlier this week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said groups of more than 50 people can lead to fines, and that public health workers are "developing approaches that stop people from putting communities at risk." 

With files from The Canadian Press