Last weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced sweeping new public health orders meant to stem the transmission of COVID-19 across the Lower Mainland.
Those measures include a ban on social gatherings outside your household, a restriction on travel to and from the region, the shuttering of party bus and limousine services and the temporary closure of facilities that offer indoor group exercise until they complete an updated health and safety plan.
But just what constitutes a “household”? And is anyone exempt?
On Wednesday, Dr. Henry released the details of the regional orders, offering clarity on where your social bubble begins and ends.
As earlier reported by the Tri-City City News, the restrictions on physical fitness do not apply to school-related sports programs. The exemptions include public, independent and First Nations schools.
In recent days, Dr. Henry has reiterated that public health has not seen significant transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 in school settings, and that the majority of exposure events rarely lead to clusters or outbreaks.
Henry has noted that play-dates and carpooling should be put on hold, and when it comes to your children’s extracurricular activities, limit them to one or none for the time being.
The ban on social gatherings does not apply to those who regularly work at someone’s private residence or vacation accommodation, whether that’s to provide childcare, health care, personal care, education or tutoring services, music lessons, legal services or emergency services.
Those involved in housekeeping, maintenance and repairs, moving services and gardening are also exempt.
Households come in all shapes and sizes, and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer recognizes that parents may not live at the same address.
The new orders do not apply to a child visiting a parent or guardian’s private residence or vacation accommodation, even if the child does not reside there on a regular basis.
Over the last several days, Dr. Henry has also clarified that those not part of the same family but living in the same residence can consider themselves part of a single household.
Think of the restrictions, she explained, in the same way as you defined your social bubble in the spring at the height of the pandemic restrictions. For those living alone, that could mean seeing a boyfriend, girlfriend or someone else who is in your immediate and limited circle.
“If you live alone it is one or two people, the same consistent people that have been part of your pandemic bubble,” explained Vancouver Coastal Health in a release Wednesday.
But be very cautious and use conservative judgement within the bounds of the orders. If possible, stay away from seniors or those who have underlying health conditions.
REHAB AND OUTDOOR GROUP FITNESS
While a temporary ban on indoor group exercise remains a pillar of the new orders, that does not apply to exercise therapy or rehabilitation programs.
And if a spin class wants to take its students outside — an increasingly chilly proposition — that remains a possibility while they review their health and safety policy.
The new public health orders will remain in effect until Nov. 23 at 12 p.m. However, should the transmission of COVID-19 continue to grow at an exponential rate, Dr. Henry has indicated that she may be required to extend or expand the orders.
In outlining the new temporary orders, Dr. Henry implored British Columbians to limit travel to and from the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, excluding the Bella Coola Valley and Central Coast Regional District.
“Essential travel includes regular travel for work within the region or travel for things like medical appointments,” noted Vancouver Coastal Health.
That said, there is no order restricting travel. If you have a flight booked out of Vancouver, nobody will stop you or penalize you for leaving.
For more information, see the following guides:
- Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health general guidance
- Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health business guidance
- Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health restaurant guidance
- Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health gyms, fitness centres and recreational centres guidance