Opinion: COVID-19 restrictions aren’t strong enough to flatten the curve

While the recent restrictions are a good start, more needs to be done to stop the fast increase in confirmed cases.

The B.C. government has implemented new restrictions with the goal of encouraging everyone to stay home. (Cole Freeman/photo)
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By Meg McLachlan

After shattering record numbers over the weekend, British Columbia’s latest COVID-19 restrictions are not a strong enough response.

Last Saturday, our Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced specific orders that will be in effect for two weeks after seeing a major spike in cases.

These restrictions focused on four areas: further limiting social gatherings, limiting non-essential regional travel, improving workplace safety and limiting use of indoor sports and exercise facilities.

“There are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household,” Henry said at a press conference Nov. 7. “This includes indoor gatherings of fewer than 50 people even in controlled settings.”

Yet restaurants, bars and malls remain open. How can people expect social gatherings to stop if facilities that inherently promote them are not closed?

Recent COVID-19 restrictions have garnered some criticism

These new restrictions come just a week after large Halloween crowds were seen billowing out of bars and restaurants on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver.

“Party buses, group limousines and other perimeter seating vehicles…are ordered to stop operating, until further notice, effective immediately,” Henry continued.

Contrary to these group vehicle guidelines, school buses and city buses continue to operate as they’re considered essential services. And despite masks having recently become mandatory on all TransLink buses and SkyTrains, the rule is not strictly enforced.

B.C. is falling behind

With a massive increase in positive COVID cases seen across the country, other provinces are taking stronger initiatives to combat the spread.

On Nov. 12, Manitoba moved the province into a “critical” response level status. Premier Brian Pallister made the dramatic change after the total number of cases surpassed 10,000 last week.

Ontario has reached 98,000 total cases on Nov. 18. According to a press release from the Premier’s office, if the numbers continue to grow at this rate, Ontario could see the number of daily cases rise to 6,500 by mid-December.

These latest projections sparked Ontario to implement new, tighter restrictions. Health officials assigned every region to one of five COVID-19 response levels: prevent, protect, restrict, control and lockdown.

If we are going to see a sharp dip in numbers, the province needs to take some swift action. We need masks declared mandatory. We need restaurants to transition to take out and delivery only. We need an increase in fines to deter those violators. Currently, the fines for individuals is only $200.

It is difficult to see how these new regulations are strict enough to curb the increase in cases when our total numbers are ten times higher now compared to April when businesses were closed.

The time for soft-spoken, gentle guidance is over. British Columbia needs the hard truth and a firm sanitized hand.

 


See how others feel about the new COVID-19 restrictions and whether it’s enough

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