Party's over: B.C. health officials say time has come to dial back on socializing
VANCOUVER -- Many British Columbians spent the summer reconnecting with friends and family – some more responsibly than others – but the time has come to dial back on socializing.
That's the latest message from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who urged the public to recalibrate once again as cold and flu season approaches.
"After many months of restrictions, we all needed to reconnect with our family, with friends, with our communities this summer," Henry said. "Now, we must slow down on our social interactions and we must prepare for the respiratory season ahead."
The call will likely come as a disappointment to some and a relief to others. British Columbia's active caseload has climbed from fewer than 200 cases in early July to more than 1,100 as of Monday.
That's hundreds of cases more than the province saw during the early months of the pandemic back in March and April.
Much of the province's latest surge has been blamed on young people partying and socializing in groups, mingling with strangers who are outside of their bubbles, and otherwise failing to heed the advice of health officials.
Henry noted the possibility there will be an official second wave over the coming months, and urged people to follow the proven pandemic precautions with renewed vigilance.
"I need everyone to pay attention," she said. "As we step into our offices, our workplaces, our schools, we need to take a step back from some of the social interactions we've had this summer. Being ready means all of us getting back to the basics that we know it takes to control this outbreak."
That means washing hands regularly, wearing a mask when necessary, physical distancing and, perhaps most importantly, staying isolated when even mildly ill.
It also means "keeping our groups small," Henry said, though she did not provide any specific guidelines. Unlike some jurisdictions, which have set hard rules on how many people can socialize together, B.C. health officials have generally provided more flexible advice and relied on residents to use their best judgment.
Henry also noted, once again, that the precautions are especially crucial for anyone whose bubble includes older relatives or others who are at increased vulnerability to the most severe effects of COVID-19.