The provincial health officer urged British Columbians to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small and vaccinated as the province enters its second holiday season gripped by the pandemic.
“This coming weekend is Thanksgiving, when many of us typically gather with family and friends over a meal,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
“I want to ask everyone, please keep your group group small this year. Remember what we are seeing in our communities right now. And particularly if you have older family members or anyone who is immune-compromised is planning to attend, make sure everybody who is there is fully vaccinated.”
B.C. is facing this Thanksgiving in a different situation than it did last year. In the week prior to last year’s holiday – Oct. 2–8 – the province reported 846 cases. Over the past seven days, the province reported 4,855 cases.
Last year, B.C. had few restriction before the holiday. Alcohol sales had been banned in restaurants, bars and pubs after 10 p.m. and nightclubs and banquet halls had been closed in September, but indoor dining and fitness remained open. Individuals were urged to “stick to six” and not gather in larger groups but masks were not yet mandated.
And most importantly, vaccines were still months away from approvals.
But in fall of 2021, there is a new threat. Henry warned that the delta variant – which makes up 99.9 per cent of cases in B.C. – is not only more contagious but appears to be more virulent, even in younger individuals.
“We see that everyday in our ICUs here now, in our hospitals, in the number of people who have severe illness and sadly, in the number of deaths we’re seeing.”
Interior Health, Northern Health and the eastern Fraser Valley continue to be on stricter gathering restrictions than the rest of B.C.
Some of the restrictions in the eastern Fraser Valley region apply only to those who are not fully vaccinated. There are no restrictions on personal gatherings in the rest of Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health or in Island Health.