The provincial health officer imposed a series of new restrictions on eastern Fraser Valley communitiesTuesday (Sept. 28), as cases rise in the region.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said that effective immediately, there will be strict restrictions on unvaccinated individuals attending both social and organized gatherings in Abbotsford, Agassiz, Harrison, Hope, Chilliwack and Mission, as well as all smaller communities in the Fraser East health delivery area.
Henry said these rules come because unvaccinated COVID patients are putting strains on local hospitals, including a recent outbreak at the Chilliwack facility.
“Not only are people with COVID having challenges and stressing our ICUs but people with other conditions are having surgeries postponed or not getting the care they need,” she said. “We need to take action now to increase vaccination rates and to reduce transmission rates in those high-risk settings in our communities.”
Cases in the eastern Fraser Valley are higher than in the rest of the Lower Mainland, with cases ranging from 25 per 100,000 in Central Abbotsford on the low end to 40 per 100,000 in Agassize/Harrison on the high end. In contrast, only South Langley Township, Brookswood/Murrayville and the Downtown Eastside have case rates about 20.
The Fraser East region also lags behind in vaccinations. Hope, Chilliwack, Mission, Agassiz/Harrison and Abbotsford are at the bottom of the list in Fraser Health, with Hope having just 66 per cent of its eligible population fully vaccinated while Abbotsford has 75 per cent. No other part of the Lower Mainland has a vaccination rate of under 78 per cent.
Indoor social gatherings will be limited to five additional people, or one additional household. Outdoor social gatherings will be limited to 10 unless all are fully vaccinated.
Indoor organized events are limited to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors unless everyone is vaccinated.
Indoor ticketed events (including movies and sporting events) indoor fitness facilities and indoor adults sports must require everyone to be fully vaccinated, not partially so like in the rest of B.C., in order to attend.
Outdoor adult sports will be limited to 50 participants unless everyone is fully vaccinated.
Henry said that events must keep a contact list of all attendees in addition to having a COVID safety plan. Workplaces, where Henry said the province has seen an increase in COVID cases, will require a COVID safety plan and for masks to be worn in all indoor workplaces, unless individuals are behind a barrier, alone in a room or are able to “maintain a safe physical distance.”