VANCOUVER -- B.C. Premier John Horgan says gatherings for holiday festivities will need to be small, and Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging people to stay in their home communities for the holidays.

The news from Horgan came during a news conference Wednesday, during which he shared a grim outlook on the 2020 holiday season.

"As we get into December and look at the Christmas season and Hanukkah and other celebrations, we need to make sure that we keep those celebrations to an absolute minimum."

The premier’s words come as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting B.C. at full-tilt. 

“There will be difficult times ahead for family gatherings, there will be difficult times ahead for how we conduct ourselves as individuals, as families, as communities,” he continued.

Horgan said there is still no specific advice for those who are hoping to travel for Christmas. However, later in the afternoon, provincial health officer Henry spoke briefly to how she’d like British Columbians to approach the holiday season. 

“If you have a family member who is returning home for the holidays then that is important and that is fine, but it is critical that when they come here they need to follow all of our orders and guidelines we have in place here.”

This, she said, means no socializing, no going outside the home, no gatherings and no parties of any kind.

Henry said she isn’t able to stop people from travelling by way of an order, but she begged people to stay local for the holidays.

“I cannot stop you by an order (from) getting into your car or going onto a plane but I’m asking in the strongest of terms for us to stay put to stay in our communities and to protect our communities.”

During the news conference, Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reported 834 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Henry also said she'd have more information on holiday planning next week.

Horgan warned that British Columbians need to be careful in the lead-up to the holidays.

“This is a critical, dangerous time with regards to COVID-19 for British Columbia,” he said, as he reminded the public to reduce in-person social contact and to travel only if it is essential.

“We need to stick to the basic, essential activities that we are required to do and no more than that,” Horgan added.

There is now a record-high 8,941 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Of that total, 337 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus, which is also a record high, and 79 people were in intensive care with the virus.