More than 400 new cases of COVID-19 – about 100 per day – have been confirmed since Friday, and provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said that, now that the Labour Day long weekend is over, it is time for British Columbians to shrink their social bubbles again.
Because so many of the community spreading events have been the result of gatherings where alcohol is served, Henry announced restrictions are being put back in place for bars and nightclubs.
All nightclubs and banquet halls are ordered to shut down, "until further notice."
"These venues are still the source of significant risk to everybody in British Columbia," Henry said.
There will also be restrictions on the serving of alcohol in those pubs, bars and restaurants that can remain open. They must stop serving alcohol as of 10 p.m. and must close at 11 p.m., unless they are providing full-meal service without alcohol being served.
Asked if pubs, bars and restaurants could be next to have to close down entirely, if community infections continue to spread and increase, Henry suggested they won't. The concerns over nightclubs are not the same as pubs, bars and restaurants.
"Pubs and restaurants have been doing a great job," Henry said. "The plans that we've seen in restaurants, I feel restaurants, for the most part, are really safe."
But Henry said that British Columbians need to begin reducing their social interactions again, and shrinking gathering sizes again, as the virus and hospitalizations begin to tick back up.
“As we go back to work, for many people, back to school, for many people, it is time for all of us to cut back on our social interactions,” Henry said.
Since Friday, there have been 429 new test positive cases of COVID-19 – slightly more than 100 per day - and two deaths. There have been new outbreaks in three health care facilities: Burnaby General Hospital, Rideau Retirement in Burnaby, and Holy Family Hospital in Vancouver.
There are currently 11 long-term care facilities with at least one case, and three acute care facilities.
Asked if she might rethink the resumption of in-class instruction, now that school is resuming, Henry said the critical issue there is community transmission, which generally remains low in B.C. She said she believes school can resume safely.
"We are very lucky in B.C.," she said. "Our community transmission rates remain low, and we know that that is the most important thing for getting schools going again."
She added there could be "long-term generational downsides" for students if classroom instruction had to remain suspended for long periods of time.
Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers for Tuesday September 8, with numbers from Friday September 4, the last reporting period, in brackets:
- New cases: 429 (121)
- Total: 6,591 (6,162)
- Recovered: 4,978 (4,706)
- Active cases: 1,386 (1,233)
- Hospitalized: 32 (31)
- Intensive care: 12 (12)
- Deaths: 213 (211)
Confirmed cases by region:
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 2,249
- Fraser Health: 3,428
- Island Health: 184
- Interior Health: 460
- Northern Health: 186