A bevy of new and returning gathering restrictions have once again hit BC, after the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Provincial health officials, along with Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth, made a series of announcements over the past week, in an attempt to lower case counts and hospitalizations.

Effective until Jan. 18, 2022, restrictions will include:

– no organized indoor social events and gatherings of any size;

– concerts, sports games and theatres reduced to 50% seated capacity, regardless of venue size;

– closing gyms, fitness centres and dance studios;

– closing bars and nightclubs;

– limiting table sizes at restaurants, cafes and pubs to a maximum of six people per table with physical distancing or barriers.

Just four days prior to the Dec. 21 announcement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Farnworth had announced that the 50% capacity limit would only be for venues that could hold more than 1,000 people. It had also been announced that New Year’s Eve events would be permitted, but restricted to seated only, though that has now been banned.

“I know everyone is looking forward to being around their family and friends this holiday season after two challenging years,” said Dr. Henry. “These restrictions balance the need for people to come together with the people they love with the need to collectively act to slow the spread of COVID-19. We know how to get through this – by following the same measures we’ve followed in the past to protect each other.”

Non-urgent scheduled surgeries after Jan. 4 have now also been postponed by the Ministry of Health.