British Columbia’s top doctor toughened her tone on social distancing and self isolation Thursday, as the province announced 40 new cases of the novel coronavirus and one new death.
B.C. has now recorded 271 cases and eight deaths in total.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry responded Thursday to reports of people congregating in large groups by saying British Columbians must take social and physical distancing more seriously.
“This is not optional,” she said, noting that B.C. has the legal authority to enforce the measures if needed.
“Everybody needs to take these actions now. This is what’s going to protect us for the next few weeks, it’s going to protect ourselves, it’s going to protect our families, it’s going to protect our communities.
The province has banned gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered bars and clubs, as well as restaurants and other businesses that can’t keep guests two metres apart, to close.
Henry sought Thursday to emphasize the importance of those measures while addressing some of the confusion on social distancing itself.
She said it’s fine to go get groceries or go outside for a walk, but otherwise, you’re asked to “lay low,” stay home and avoid groups as much as possible.
“Don’t have a play date,” she said. “Don’t go out for coffee with your friend … This is not the time for those kinds of social interaction.”
She said people should instead think of innovative ways to stay connected, such as virtual coffee dates.
Not all businesses are obeying her order to close, she said, but most operators were being responsible, and public health inspectors were warning those that aren’t.
Henry also responded to frustration among people who want to be tested but haven’t been able.