COVID circuit breaker rules expire; restart plan expected today

Circuit-breaker restrictions on indoor gatherings and travel aimed at reducing COVID-19 transmissions expired at midnight Monday just as daily case counts dipped below 300, a number not seen since early fall.

Premier John Horgan, Jobs and Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon, Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will announce B.C.’s plan to safely restart the province — dubbed Restart 2.0 — at 1 p.m. today.

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Until then, “there are no changes for individuals or businesses,” Henry and Dix said as they announced 974 new cases over the long weekend, including 25 in Island Health.

The six-week circuit breaker ordered a halt to all indoor restaurant dining, faith gatherings, and adult group fitness classes, and limited travel to within three zones in the province.

The premier said last week the restart will be slow and methodical. Henry cautioned “nothing is going to be back to 100 per cent on Tuesday.”

But the premier said British Columbians can expect good news and many industry leaders are banking on that.

“They can expect on Tuesday that the circuit breaker will be over, and a road map will be laid out for all British Columbians to see,” Horgan said.

“This is great news for young people,” said Horgan. “It’s great news for entrepreneurs, it’s great news for workers, it’s great news for adults who want to get on with their lives.”

The premier said he’s confident the restart plan will be a positive for “people of faith who are yearning to get back to their temples, to their churches, gurdwaras, people who want to get onto the field and play a game, people who want to travel to their summer homes in other parts of the province.

“We are confident that, come July, we are going to be in a much better place,” said Horgan. “But on Tuesday, we will lay out that road map.”

B.C.’s daily COVID-19 case count dipped below 300 cases on Monday and there were fewer than 1,000 over the three-day long weekend. The last time the daily case count was just below 300 was Oct. 30, when the seven-day rolling average of new cases was 291.

There were 356 new cases between Friday and Saturday, 325 from Saturday to Sunday, and 293 between Sunday and Monday for a total of 974 cases over the three-day weekend.

The Fraser Health region led the province with 630 new cases over the long weekend, while the Island had the fewest at 25.

“Today is one day closer to putting this pandemic behind us,” Henry and Dix said in a joint statement.

On Monday, there were 3,953 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 292 in hospital and 96 in intensive care. On Friday, there were 319 people in hospital, including 107 in intensive care.

Despite the good news, the province cautioned British Columbians not to let up on precautions.

Twelve more COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Monday, for a total of 1,679.

Of 142,347 cases in B.C., 136,603 people who tested positive have recovered

As of Monday in B.C., 2.8 million adults have been vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, of which 147,144 were second doses.

The pace of vaccinations will mean second doses — originally scheduled for about 16 weeks after the first — will be administered after about 13 weeks, and the gap could shrink further.

“But we are now at the point where we have a lot of vaccine coming in the next six weeks,” Henry said Thursday.

“Those who are older who have not yet received their second dose can expect to be notified very soon.”

On Thursday, about 310,000 youth age 12 to 17 started getting Pfizer vaccine shots. They can register and book, or accompany a parent or guardian who is already going to a booked vaccination.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

> Register for vaccination at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated, or phone 1-833-838-2323.

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