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Northern B.C. COVID-19 restrictions don’t extend west of Kitwanga

Smithers, Prince George, Quesnel, Peace region see bars closing
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have been working to contain COVID-19 transmission in Northern B.C. (B.C. government)

New restrictions on liquor sales and private gatherings are taking effect at midnight tonight for part of B.C.’s Northern Health region east of Kitwanga on Highway 16, due to high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

“These changes will apply to the entire Northern Health region, with the exception of the local health areas west of Kitwanga, including Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, Telegraph, Snow Country and Nisga’a,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Oct. 14.

The Peace and Prince George regions have been particularly hard hit, with hospitals moving intensive care patients to southern hospitals on southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Northern Health extends to Quesnel to the south and Valemount near the Alberta border.

Henry said bars and night clubs in affected areas of Northern Health will be closed, and restaurants that use B.C.’s vaccine card for access must stop alcohol sales at 10 p.m. Religious services in the affected area are also to be virtual only.

The order is in effect until at least Friday, Nov. 19. Personal gatherings are restricted to 25 or fewer people who are fully vaccinated, and those who have an unvaccinated person in their household are required to stay within their households.

Henry said northwest communities west of Smithers and Kitwanga have higher vaccination rates and are not seeing severe illness associated with the delta variant of COVID-19.

“We are seeing hospitals and ICUs filling up with young, otherwise healthy individuals, who are struggling to breathe with COVID-19,” Henry said. “And many people, even if they have mild illness, are now having long-term effects.”

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