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Masks must be worn at in-person worship services in B.C., Dr. Henry says

With the new Omicron variant detected in the province, B.C.’s public health officer is amending a COVID-19 mask order for religious and worship services.

A person returning to B.C. from Nigeria was confirmed to be infected with Omicron variant, officials revealed at a provincial COVID-19 briefing today, Nov. 30. With the winter and holiday season approaching, public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the mask edict would be adjusted.

“I am amending the mask order to include a requirement that participants attending worship services, including choirs, must wear a face covering, a mask, during services,” Henry said. “These masks can be removed for eating or drinking, to allow for ceremony activities, and readers and celebrants can remove them if distancing is in place during the celebration of the ceremony.”

Henry is also requiring that worship services be limited to 50 per cent seating capacity, unless all of the participants are vaccinated, in which case full capacity will be allowed. She said religious denominations can use the proof of vaccination cards, available through the province, but will “allow flexibility for [faith leaders] and congregations to work with congregants to provide proof of vaccination by other means,” something already being done at many faith services.

“Many faith leaders are working with their own communities to make sure that we have these measures in place to protect people over this period of time,” said Henry.

In-person worship services continue to be on pause in Northern Health, although drive-thru options are allowed.

According to the latest COVID-19 numbers (for Nov. 30), there were 358 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. In terms of provincial vaccination numbers, 81.7 per cent of people aged five years and older have received two doses, while 87.8 per cent of people 12 years and over and 88.3 per cent of adults have seen likewise, the province said.

RELATED: B.C. sees first reported case of COVID-19 Omicron variant

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Karl Yu

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