People are seen walking along the seawall in English Bay in Vancouver, Monday, May 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

People are seen walking along the seawall in English Bay in Vancouver, Monday, May 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Keep ‘pandemic bubbles’ small, top doctor urges as B.C. prepares to loosen rules

Many measures will remain in place for months, officials say

B.C.’s top doctor urged the province’s residents to keep their “pandemic bubbles” small on Tuesday (May 5), the day before Premier John Horgan is scheduled to relax some COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are not yet through this,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “We are likely at the end of our beginning.”

Henry’s cautious tone came the day after she and Health Minister Adrian Dix released new modelling, which showed that people could eventually double their number of interactions and keep hospitalizations under control. Currently, B.C. is at 30 per cent of usual interactions.

“Don’t start planning your playdates and expanding your bubbles too soon. The orders and restrictions we have put in place are still in place.”

Measures that are, and will remain, key include washing hands frequently, maintaining physical distancing, staying home when sick and taking advantage of the warm weather by going outside, where COVID-19 is less likely to spread. Henry has said in the past that large gatherings are not happening in B.C. this summer and urged people to plan smaller events.

Henry said British Columbians could “consider the use of non-medical masks when physical distancing is not an option.”

Dix said 2020 could be the “summer of renewal” for B.C. as long as people continue to follow the rules.

But it will not be a “normal” summer, Henry said.

“We cannot afford right now to go back to the way we were in December. We’re going to have to be closer to home, find our joy and our fun in our own neighbourhoods.”

Exactly what restrictions will be loosened will be revealed by Horgan Wednesday, but Dix said B.C.’s reopening will not be as dramatic as that in Quebec in Ontario because many businesses here were never closed to begin with.

READ MORE: B.C. sees 8 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

READ MORE: Officials say B.C. could eventually double interactions without causing new COVID-19 surge

READ MORE: B.C. records 170 ‘excess deaths’ so far during COVID-19 pandemic


@katslepian

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