Pubs shuttered, tighter mask rules for kids, private gym lessons only and darn those young people.

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On Monday afternoon provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry — backed by Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix — tightened COVID-19 restrictions.

She said the move was due to an exponential growth in B.C.’s average COVID-19 daily case count and active variant cases, and fear of those cases overwhelming the health care system.

Here’s five things to know about the latest measures — in place until April 19.

PUBS AND COFFEE SHOPS ARE EFFECTIVELY SHUTTERED

Henry said indoor dining at all food and liquor-serving premises was suspended for three weeks. Businesses with patios and kitchens — mostly restaurants — can stay open for full-meal service on those patios or for takeout and delivery.

But you won’t be able to go for a beer at the pub or sit inside your local coffee shop. Coffee shops can sell takeout drinks or serve food and drinks on outside patios.

This has an immediate and direct impact on thousands of hospitality industry workers. Horgan has promised some sort of relief for those workers.

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Horgan could not be specific, but said “the minister’s on it. The government’s on it. We’ll have more to say once the programs have been developed”.

Henry said she had not put further restrictions on retail outlets.

“When we started our restart program, we put in place COVID safety plans that were very specific to different businesses. And what we are seeing is the data does not show that we’re seeing transmission in retail environments and small retail, the small shops and stores that we have around the province,” she said.

“They are following their COVID safety plans, and those are working. We’re not seeing transmission from personal service settings, like hairdressers or barbers or nail salons.”


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SCHOOLS AND MASKS

After months of lobbying from the B.C. Teacher’s Federation and parent groups, Dr. Henry tightened mask-wearing policy in schools on Monday.

Effective Tuesday, all students in K-3 will be “strongly encouraged to wear masks” and those in Grades 4-12 will be mandated to wear a mask in class and public areas. All teachers must also now wear masks.

Previously, Grade 8-12 students were mandated to mask wearing, while it was strongly encouraged for Grades 4-7 and children K-3 didn’t have to wear one.

“We will be updating our K-12 public health guidance to support mask wearing for all students down to grade four in schools across the province,” Henry said.

BCTF president Teri Mooring wrote to teachers on Monday to acknowledge the union’s work.

“Our work fighting for this mask mandate has paid off. We are grateful for the tireless advocacy of our locals and members that has helped us get these new safety measures in place as an added layer of protection for teachers and students.”

Mooring said the BCTF would now advocate for ventilation upgrades in schools and reduced density in indoor spaces.


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THOSE DARNED YOUNG PEOPLE

Premier Horgan likely ticked off a whole demographic of British Columbians on Monday by placing a lions-share of the blame for the latest COVID-19 crackdowns on those aged 20-39 (many of whom are employed in the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors.)

“I know that people that tune in regularly to see Dr. Henry and Minister Dix are following the rules,” Horgan said. “They are paying attention to the details and focusing on making sure that they do their part to get British Columbia through this.”

However, Horgan said the 20 to 39 cohort were not paying as much attention to Henry’s broadcasts and, “quite frankly, are putting the rest of us in a challenging situation.”

“I’m asking, I’m appealing to young people to curtail your social activity. The directions will be quite clear from Dr. Henry, but my appeal to you is do not blow this for the rest of us. Do not blow this for your parents and your neighbours and others who have been working really, really hard, making significant sacrifices so we can get good outcomes for everybody.”


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“WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE RIGHT NOW,” HENRY TELLS OUTSIDERS

B.C. has never outlawed travel within or outside Canada, with Horgan stating this would not be within his government’s powers.

This did not change on Monday, though Henry said she wanted to reinforce the message to limit travel to “work or medical reasons only.”

“We need to hunker down for this next few weeks. Stay close to home. It is movement of people that moves the virus, and we’ve seen that happen. It is sometimes travel from other provinces, and we’ll be signalling very clearly that that’s not acceptable any more. We don’t want you here right now. And we need to stay close to home as well.

“For those who have travelled outside their health region, if you or anyone in your family develops any signs of illness, you must stay home from work, school or daycare, and arrange to get tested immediately.”


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GETTING HARDER TO GET PHYSICAL

If you can afford to pay for one-on-one fitness classes, the latest round of restrictions will not impact you.

However, as of Tuesday all general adult fitness classes in gyms, fitness studios and dance studios are banned — as are indoor yoga classes.

Gyms and fitness centres are restricted to individual or one-on-one activities only i.e. one-on-one personal training.

Henry said youth programs that have in place strict restrictions are allowed to continue — and she expects to permit more youth sports activity in late April.

“If we pay attention to what we need to do now to allow us to get the immunization program ramped up safely around the province, then we are still on track to be able to do more, particularly outdoor sports later in the spring. But right now, this applies to adults,” she said.

“So what you can do is one-on-one training with a trainer or individual fitness in a gym, but it needs to be with the adequate COVID safety plans in place. That means small numbers of people, space around you, but none of the group activities that were happening.”

dcarrigg@postmedia.com

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