Enhanced restrictions on gatherings, events and masks put in place by the B.C. Government will be extended indefinitely.

Following the release of updated epidemiological data, Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer said the restrictions will be extended for the foreseeable future.

“I will be continually reviewing and reconsider the needs for these restrictions based on the incidents and prevalence of the virus, any new information about transmission, and the progress of our vaccination supply and our immunization program,” said Henry. “We need to buy time to understand how these variants of concern, or whether these variants of concern are going to affect transmission in our community, and we need to buy time to get our immunization program back up and running.”

Henry said it will not take much to spread the virus rapidly among residents.

“Just one or two superspreader events in our network or a slight increase in our contacts, or risky contacts with others can quickly counteract all of our progress and work,” said Henry. “Seeing one more friend, having one birthday party outside of our household is all that it may take in our community.”

Residents are discouraged from gathering for the time being, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Each holiday and occasion this month, whether it’s the Super Bowl this Sunday, Lunar New Year, Family Day or Valentine’s day, it’s an important opportunity for us to either allow the virus to spread or slow it down even more.”

Henry noted that the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to stick to the guidelines put in place by the Provincial Government.

“By spending less time with others, by staying local and using our layers of protection we are bending our curve, slowly and steadily, but we need to protect the progress we have made since the start of this year and not squander our success.”

According to Henry, data gathered by the B.C. Government will show when the time is right to lift restrictions or enact more.

“As long as we continue on this path, we can start planning for the return of activities at the end of this month,” said Henry.

Henry offered some hope to B.C. residents, noting that if COVID-19 numbers stay on the path they are on, restrictions will start to be eased by the end of February.