Are we going back to Phase 1?
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Restaurants can still operate at full capacity except all patrons have to remain at their original table while gyms are closed until January 18.
Starting on December 14, 2021, there were on average at least 400 cases of the Coronavirus in the province. In two weeks, it would significantly increase to at least 3000 cases mainly related to the Omicron variant. At that point in December, this was the highest number of cases in the province in a month according to CBC.
Because of this surge of cases, some of the restrictions from the earlier days of the pandemic have returned to try to reduce the number of new cases, even though most of the country is fully vaccinated. As most of the country including BC is allowing more people to get a booster shot, some countries including Israel are already experimenting with a fourth dose to find out if it will increase the effectiveness of the Coronavirus vaccine which so far has been promising. The evidence from Israel thus far indicates that the booster shot can be effective against the Omicron variant.
A lot of people who were travelling when the Omicron variant emerged, scrambled to rearrange their travel plans after travel restrictions were put back in place and a shortage of flight attendants led to various flight cancellations. Also, the requirement to have a negative PCR test when coming back home was suddenly reinforced. Shortly thereafter, footage of passengers in a Sunwing charter flight to Mexico partying and not practicing social distancing leaked to the media.
An increase in wait times for a Coronavirus test led to provinces accelerating the distribution of rapid tests to reduce the amount of time waiting in the car to get a test. While the rapid tests could produce a false negative result, they can indicate if an individual needs a test. Another way to find out if you got the Coronavirus is by doing the self-assessment test through the provincial government’s website and the BC COVID-19 app.
In the province, there are currently no lockdowns, though a few capacity limits were put back in place. Not all places were at full capacity when the capacity limits were dropped two months ago, though a good example is Rogers Arena which operated at full capacity and now must go back to 50 percent capacity as well as all venues with a capacity of more than 1000. Restaurants can still operate at full capacity except all patrons have to remain at their original table while gyms are closed until January 18.
The first week back to school was delayed by a week for younger learners while many colleges had virtual classes with limited open hours for on-campus college services. However, a month after the Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa, the number of cases was starting to go down. This is promising as many expect the number of cases to lower in the spring and maybe the pandemic will finally end.