Henry sends mixed messages on outdoor gatherings ahead of hot weekend

Health orders say you can meet up to 10 people outside, but Dr. Henry says that doesn't mean you should. Smaller groups are better with COVID-19 spreading.

Ahead of what is forecast to be the hottest weekend of the year so far, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging British Columbians to limit outdoor gatherings to as few people as possible.

But the message comes without a change to Henry’s public health order on gatherings and events, which currently allows for outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, whether in the park, beach or in your backyard. 

“Even if we can see people outside of our household, we shouldn’t right now,” said Henry Thursday. “We know that outside is lower risk. It’s not zero but it is lower risk.”

By offering a less than a clear-cut message, Henry attempted to walk a fine line encouraging people to limit social interactions, while maintaining an outlet for some form of social interaction.

If people do choose to gather outside in groups of up to 10, Henry implored people to use masks and maintain social distance if possible. 

“It’s likely that without you or them knowing it, someone in your community, in your connections has COVID, may not be aware of it and is potentially infectious,” she said. “The more people you see, the higher that likelihood would be.”

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people do not apply to groups dining at restaurant patios or other outdoor public dining areas, and such activities are still restricted to immediate households.

Single people are limited to indoor gatherings with their “core bubble” — either everyone in your shared household, or for people who live alone, “a maximum of two people you see regularly.”

Current public health orders continue to ban indoor social gatherings of anyone outside your household or core bubble. That means not inviting friends or extended family inside your home and not hosting indoor parties. 

Sunny skies and temperatures of up to 25 degrees Celsius are expected to dominate B.C.’s Lower Mainland Saturday.

Meanwhile, modelling released by the province indicates that without cutting the current rate of contact among British Columbians, new COVID-19 cases could surpass 2,000 daily by the end of the month. 

Leading independent experts warn such case loads could overwhelm the hospital system.

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