A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared for the entire Central Okanagan area, and several localized health restrictions will soon come into effect.
A mandatory mask mandate will be implemented starting at midnight in all indoor public spaces in the Central Okanagan area, which includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland. Residents are also encouraged to wear masks outdoors, especially if they are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised. Children under the age of 12 are not required to wear a mask.
Restrictions on social gatherings in the Central Okanagan local health area will remain at 50 people indoors. All events are required to have COVID-19 safety plans in place.
Restaurants and food services must also follow provincial health restrictions. No socializing between tables and no dancing are allowed. Liquor service can remain at normal hours.
Interior Health will be increasing enforcement of COVID-19 measures. Businesses will be forced to close when necessary. Interior Health will also be monitoring downtown Kelowna businesses to ensure compliance to with COVID-19 restrictions.
The health authority is also discouraging travel into the Central Okanagan for non-essential purposes, especially if they are not vaccinated.
Casinos, gyms and exercise facilities can remain open but mask-wearing is mandatory. Gyms and exercise facilities must also have increased cleaning and sanitization procedures.
Interior Health will also be reducing the time between the first and second dose to 28 days for Central Okanagan residents, as opposed to the original 49 days. The health authority will also be focusing vaccination efforts on residents ages 20 to 40.
“As we move out of the pandemic, we no longer need to take broad restrictions to stem the transmissions of the virus, but we still need to take some measures to stop transmission in certain communities,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The restrictions come after COVID-19 cases have risen in the Central Okanagan area. These restrictions also come after Interior Health reported vaccination rates that are lower than the provincial average. The majority of new COVID-19 infections are from people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, said Interior Health.
More to come.