B.C. health authorities are reporting 14 new COVID-19 infections around the province, as 183 cases remain active.
So far 2,694 people have been infected with the virus, however, 2,344 people have fully recovered.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, said that no new deaths have been attributed to the illness for the fifth day straight. So far, 167 British Columbians have died from COVID-19.
As well, Henry announced an adjustment to restaurant regulations across the province. Instead of a blanket 50% reduction in capacity, the reduction will be based on how much space an establishment has.
“It will be done in collaboration, and have a defined capacity that will allow us how to better enforce the rules. It also clarifies restrictions on the use of barriers, which have been very effective,” said Henry. “As well, it has put in restrictions around self-serve areas and buffets that reduce the chances of transmission and identifies some of the chokepoints in restaurants.”
Henry added that chokepoints may refer to high-traffic areas of a restaurant, such as washrooms, or around the cash register.
Henry also commented on the potential of resuming the NHL season, she does not intend to make exceptions for players, should the sport return.
“In no way, will we compromise all the work that we have done and the health of British Columbians for the NHL or any other group. The NHL has provided a proposal for consideration by federal and provincial officials,” said Henry. “I have reviewed that plan and exceeds the requirements we have in place, even today. It meets our criteria of protecting our community without compromise.”
Henry added that teams would be subject to intense screening and testing, and games would be without fans, public contact, or families. As well, teams would be subject to these criteria for the entire time they are in B.C., not just two weeks, as per the norm for most people coming into the province.
Henry also acknowledged the toll the opioid crisis has taken on B.C., which has seen the highest number of deaths in a single month with 170 people killed in May due to drug toxicity.
“COVID-19 is forcing all of us to stay farther apart from one another. This can be very isolating for some people, and makes it easier for them to hide their drug use from others, even if they might have otherwise reached out for help,” said Henry. “We know that using alone is exceedingly deadly right now, and alarms of people missing have not been going off because we have been staying apart to manage the other crisis we are dealing with.”
The provincial government has launched its Lifeguard app to help prevent overdoses. As well, it is recommended that users do not use alone, and know how to use a naloxone kit.