Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Dec. 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Dec. 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. finished 2020 with 683 more COVID-19 cases, eight deaths

Increase shows ‘precarious situation’ for New Year

Ending liquor sales at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve was a necessary step to keep a lid on COVID-19 transmission as B.C. heads into 2021, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

An increase in new cases shows the “precarious situation” that still exists as B.C. carries on restrictions into 2021, Henry said at the year’s final briefing from the B.C. legislature. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reported an uptick in new cases Dec. 31, with 683 additional cases identified, after a decline since before Christmas.

Henry acknowledged Thursday that the decision to cut off alcohol sales at restaurants, pubs and retail stores two hours early on New Year’s Eve is another difficulty for them. It’s the staff who have to deal with parties that get out of hand when people drink too much and forget their infection precautions, “and sadly we have seen that happen, even in the last few weeks,” she said.

Henry said the 8 p.m. cutoff has prompted some people to move their reservations to another night, as struggling restaurants will need the business for many weeks after the holidays are over.

B.C.’s daily cases have declined in recent days, with 485 new cases identified on Wednesday, 382 Tuesday, 441 on Monday, 424 on Sunday, 447 on Saturday and 512 cases last Friday, Christmas Day. Daily reported tests results also declined during the holidays, down to 4,675 on Tuesday after reaching highs of as much as 15,000 tests a day during the peak of the second surge of infections in November and early December.

B.C. recorded eight more deaths Dec. 31, seven of them in the Fraser Health region where the majority of new infections continue to be identified. There have been two more outbreaks declared in the health care system, one at Williams Lake Seniors Village and one at Langley Memorial Hospital’s long-term care centre.

Two health care outbreaks have been declared over, at Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Banfield Pavilion in Vancouver. A community outbreak at the Big Horn Motel in Watson Lake on the Yukon border has also been declared over.

RELATED: WHO predicts that COVID-19 will become endemic

RELATED: Ottawa gives green light for NHL training camps


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The old Yount school in Youbou has stood empty for years, but now a group has plans to turn it into a mixed-use property with affordable housing and tourist services. (Submitted)
Group sets sights on tranforming old Yount school property in Youbou

School District 79 has already commenced a process to sell the school through a formal proposal call

North Cowicha to extend the time lines of its official community plan update. (File photo)
North Cowichan to extend time line of OCP review

Municipality also adds $55,000 to OCP budget

Cowichan Capitals’ Logan Rands digs for the puck along the boards in the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ zone midway through the third period of their BC Hockey League game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Cowichan Capitals pick up first two wins of BCHL season

Brockman, Moffatt both up to four goals on the year

A nearly four-hour standoff at an apartment complex on Cowichan Lake Road in Duncan ended peacefully on Wednesday, April 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Police surround building as homeowner held in apartment by adult son

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read