VANCOUVER -- As cases continue to surge in B.C. amid the province's third wave in the pandemic, the top doctor is urging locals to stay in their immediate neighbourhoods when possible.

In her COVID-19 briefing Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said British Columbians need to be staying as close to home as possible.

"To get to the end as quickly as possible there are things that we need to do now and that includes staying home, staying in your immediate neighborhood as much as possible," she said.

"So if you live in North Van, you should not be travelling to Langley or to Richmond. If you live in the Lower Mainland, you should not be travelling to the island. If you live in Penticton, you should not be going to Sun Peaks or Oliver or Kelowna right now. We need to only do those types of travel if it's essential and nothing more."

This comes as the province is also managing a rise in critical cases, leading to a record-breaking number of patients in ICU. 

The message is also a departure from previous statements in the pandemic, when locals were asked to stay in their local health area, rather than just their city.

"We need people to pay attention to what are things that are safe right now," Henry said, when asked if someone from Burnaby could go to the North Shore for a hike.

"And that means going out in your own neighborhood."

In spite of the warnings, Henry said it's important for people to get outside every day.

"We know there are things we can do safely and mostly that means doing them outside and keeping our distance," she said.

"Everybody should go outside every day, whether it's in your backyard or your immediate neighbourhood. Take your family, take your pet, but find some time to go outside and stay small."

While current public health restrictions allow groups of up to 10 people to gather outside only, Henry said Monday officials are "even discouraging that right now." 

"Even with that being an outlet for people, I am discouraging that. Especially if it's more than a small number of people and the same number of people," she said.

"It's about trying to find things that we can do safely … if you have any doubts about it, don't do it right now."