Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice for having a safe and fun spring break with family and (some) friends

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Sleepovers are out. Same with indoor birthday parties. But just in time for spring break, B.C.’s provincial health officer says kids can now have outdoor playdates with a small group of friends.

On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced an amendment to the health orders allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

“This means your children can have a playdate with their friends over the March break, but with the same group of friends, and if they’re in school, the group of friends that they’re in a cohort with in school,” she said.

Meeting family, including picnics in the park with grandparents, is also possible under the amended orders, as long as everyone remains outside and continues to practise physical distancing.

Henry cited the improving weather — “as we know we’re heading into the period where the transmissibility (of the virus) will decrease” — and the importance of social connections as factors in her decision.

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She encouraged families to get outside and explore their own neighbourhood, kick around a soccer ball or have a barbecue.

Caleb, 3, and Aaron, 2 at Central Park in Burnaby on March 11.
Caleb, 3, and Aaron, 2 at Central Park in Burnaby on March 11. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

But Henry was adamant that the order didn’t include indoor gatherings, which remain prohibited. There has been several cases of transmission at indoor birthday parties with just a few attendees, she said.

Restrictions limiting travel to within your own region also remain in effect.

Last week, Henry was asked about possibly starting spring break early, or extending it, in schools that are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. She said health officials were monitoring the outbreaks but noted increasing transmission among school-aged children is happening “when they’re not in school.”


READ MORE: Spring Break: 5 simple COVID-safe things to do with your kids in Metro Vancouver


It may be a different spring break than in years past, but many programs are still running, including virtual and in-person camps, modified to allow physical distancing.

The Vancouver park board has changed its kid-to-staff ratio from 10 kids per every leader, to seven for its spring-break camps, which are run in partnership with community centre associations.

“The premise this year is distancing, handwashing, smaller ratios and cleaning,” said Alison Cristall, supervisor at the Trout Lake Community Centre and supervisor for the park board’s Day Camp Committee. “We’re really lucky we ran outdoor summer camps, which was our first crack at running camps in a pandemic.”

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