Jason Soul / Staff reporter
On March 11, 2021, the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry introduced a new provincial health order allowing for outdoor social gatherings of ten or fewer people. The government of B.C. assured that all restrictions for indoor gatherings will remain in place and that it is important to not meet new people but to stick to the same people.
As it is near spring break for most of the schools in B.C, it is exciting news to hear that people can be spending time outside with over ten people. However, as the number of active COVID-19 cases in B.C. are still slowly rising, it is crucial for people to gather with awareness and keep in mind that the world is still fighting the virus.
Since the modified rules say that it is still required to maintain six feet away from each other, there are limitations on what can be done with a group of ten people. Despite the challenges, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. There are several fun outdoor activities that people can still enjoy.
One of the great exercises to enjoy outside is rollerblading or biking. In a public park or just around the near neighbourhood, rollerblading or biking can help to improve mental health and relieve stress while easily physically distancing from others. The experts say that there is nothing to worry about it unless it is an indoor track where it’s hard to remain within physical distance.
“If you’re talking about a regular cycling experience, just people out on a normal recreational excursion, there’s probably not that big of a risk,” said Abdu Sharkawy, infectious disease specialist doctor in an interview with CTV news.
Going up on a mountain to ski or snowboard is also a great idea because people can easily distance themselves from others on a huge mountain. However, it might look quite different from in the past when people could just visit the resort and buy a ticket and enjoy skiing.
Now, it will require planning ahead of time. Since the skiing resorts are now selling a limited number of tickets to avoid the place getting crowded, people will need to buy the tickets online beforehand.
Also, skiing resorts have implemented extensive new rules and guidelines relating to COVID-19, such as only allowing family members to be on the same lift at once, so it’s best to check each resort’s website for details before planning a trip.
“Skiing is going to be different this year—you’ll have to plan ahead, you’re going to have to use your car as your lodge, and you’re going to need patience,” said Analise Bergin, a spokeswoman for Ski Utah. “But once you get back on the snow, it won’t feel so different.”
Although there are many safe exercises and outdoor activities to enjoy together as a group, there is no point if people violate the rules and ignore the protocols. Everyone still needs to be cautious and be mindful about maintaining a safe distance from others.
These outdoor activities are safe if the rules are carefully followed, yet it’s impossible to say anything is zero per cent just because the possibility of transmitting the virus is low. Wearing a mask, and sanitizing hands and used equipment is essential to having a fun time outside while also avoiding virus transmission.
“We have to have some enthusiasm and optimism,” said Dr. Birinder Narang, a family physician. “But it has to be measured and implemented in a way that is still following the guidelines.”