British Columbia is now in Phase 2 in our response to COVID-19. This means that after months of staying at home and going out only for essential services, life is changing with the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions.
As we move into this new phase, British Columbians may feel a bit fearful. It is great to be able to “double our bubble”, and spend time with close family and trusted friends. It will also be nice to be able to go to a restaurant or visit a shop. But many will be worried that transmission is still a risk, and wonder what they can do to stay safe and help to minimize the chances of a second surge.
The reality is that the gradual approach to re-opening businesses and expanding our networks is not back to normal. This is about being able to doing more, but in a cautious and diligent way. It is about minimizing risk while looking out for each other.
The best thing British Columbians can do is to use common sense and follow the directions of Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry:
Double your bubble - Dr Henry has said that as long as cases continue to decrease in BC, people can mix with groups of around two to six people outside of their immediate household. The situation will be different for each household, depending on pre-existing conditions, immunity, and other factors.
Continue to practice physical distancing – It is still important to maintain physical distance of two meters from others when outside your home or bubble. This practice is proven to reduce viral transmission.
Spend lots of time outside – British Columbians should safely enjoy outdoor spaces. Studies have shown that transmission of COVID-19 is more likely in indoor situations, and outdoor exercise helps with stress management.
If you must get closer than 2 metres to people, Dr Henry suggests you may want to consider wearing a mask. If you go to a hair stylist, massage therapist, etc., they will all be wearing masks to protect you.
Stay close to home, avoid nonessential travel – don’t travel far and wide this summer. There is lots to do near home, or you can visit one of the provincial parks. Remember to #holdtheline.
Remember to stick with the basics: Wash your hands frequently, stay at home if feeling ill, and clean surfaces and frequently-touched areas often
This is really important especially if you have chronic health conditions. Many patients have been missing appointments because they thought their doctors’ offices were closed, or they were worried about going to their clinics. Family physicians and Specialists in community practice continue to provide virtual care as they have during the pandemic, and slowly they will begin to re-open offices with appropriate safety measures put in place. Patient health and safety remains the top priority for doctors. Check out the Pathways Virtual Care Directory for information about how your doctor is providing care. Or just call your doctor’s office, the Medical Office Assistant will help you to connect with our doctor either by telephone, video or in-person.
If all goes well, Phase 3 of recovery is slated to begin in June. This will see the re-opening of hotels and resorts, broader re-openings of parks and campsites, the return of the film industry, and a partial return to school.
Phase 4, which includes large gatherings of more than 50 people, won’t begin for quite some time, as it is conditional on at least one of the following: vaccination, “community” immunity, or broad successful treatments. Given the virus spreads via contact with others, we need to ensure minimal spread until we have viable prevention or treatments.
Continue to be vigilant, and take responsibility not just for your own health but for those around you. See your doctor if you have health concerns. We will get through this together.