COVID-19: BC Changes Rules on Masks and Capacity Limits in Religious Services | The Canadian News

British Columbia’s chief physician says that everyone attending a religious service in the province should wear a mask to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Previously, the province had exempted the faithful from the mask mandate, which requires people to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces.

The waiver will be lifted Tuesday night, making masks mandatory for all attendees, including members of the choirs. The masks can be removed for eating and drinking to allow for ceremonial services. Readers and celebrants can remove face covers if they maintain physical distance.

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BC Government Monitors New Omicron COVID-19 Variant

BC Government Monitors New Omicron COVID-19 Variant

Provincial Health Official Dr. Bonnie Henry also said places of worship can function at full capacity if all participants are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, services are limited to 50 percent of seating capacity.

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“The province, as you know, has a vaccine proof card available for use by religious services that will allow you and your congregations to work with the congregation to provide proof of vaccination by other means,” Henry said.

“I know that many religious services have already done this and many religious leaders are working with their own communities to ensure that we have these measures in place to protect people during this period of time.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix on BC’s response to the Omicron variant

Health Minister Adrian Dix on BC’s response to the Omicron variant

Henry said the rules are changing because “the risk increases as we gather indoors” and “we tend to go to more religious gatherings during these holiday seasons.”

Henry said all British Columbia residents age five and older should wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

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Henry said additional restrictions on Home Health will be lifted Tuesday night as COVID-19 transmission has decreased in the region and hospitalizations have stabilized. The current restrictions that apply across the province, including the mandate of the mask and the order around meetings and events, will apply to Interior Health.

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The restrictions at Northern Health will now expire on January 31, 2022. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed and restaurants must end liquor service by 10 p.m. In-person worship services are not yet allowed in the region, although services drive-in allowed.

Restrictions will remain in the Fraser East region.

Henry announced Tuesday that the province registered its first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

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