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Supporting individuals and families as B.C. eases COVID-19 restrictions

Dear self advocates and family members –

On March 10, Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer, announced the removal of the order requiring people to wear masks indoors. She said we can do this because so many people in B.C. have gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations. We know as well that the number of COVID-19 cases is dropping and people will be able to resume some in-person social connections and community activities. Here is Dr. Henry’s announcement.

This is welcome news after two years of sacrifices that have been difficult on everyone’s physical and mental health.

We know many individuals and families are thinking through how to adjust their lives during this time. Wearing of masks will no longer be an order, but people can continue to do so and are encouraged to do so on public transit and BC Ferries. Organizations and service providers can also continue to require staff, individuals, families, and visitors to wear masks in their services.

Because many people we serve are more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 than other people in B.C., we have recently told our service providers that it is reasonable for them to continue mask requirements and safety precautions for the coming months. But we have also asked them to take advantage of this time to support individuals to resume in person social connections and activities where they can do so in safe ways. You can see our message to service providers here.

Here are things to think about and help you decide how to adjust:

1. Think about your personal risks

Every person will have different levels of risk. Many of you are very strong and healthy and ready to be more active. Others have health conditions that mean you may get sicker if you catch COVID-19. If you are unsure of your risk, talk to your doctor and support networks to help you understand your risk levels and the things you can start to do again, and how to do them safely. Also consider the level of risk of your family members. If they are getting older and have some health concerns you will want to take extra precautions to protect their health.

2. Think about things that help your physical and mental health

With the number of COVID-19 cases lower than before, and if you have had all your vaccinations, now is the time to find safe ways to do more things that are important to your physical and mental well being.

In some cases, you may be able to see people again in person, and do so in safe ways outside, or in smaller groups, and practising distancing. You can still wear a mask, and everyone should still practice washing their hands and respiratory hygiene, which protect you from catching colds, the flu and COVID-19.

3. Think about what will give you comfort and confidence

Everyone also will have different levels of comfort when resuming activities. It is important for everyone to listen to each other’s preferences and respect them. People who are more cautious must be supported. While many people may decide they are comfortable no longer wearing masks, it is your right to choose to continue to wear a mask, and your support networks will help make sure your friends and community understand and respect your choices.

4. What to do when you or someone else feels unwell

One of the things this pandemic has taught us is that when we feel unwell we should not be in close contact with others. If you are feeling sick, even if it isn’t COVID-19, do your best to keep your distance and focus on getting well. Agencies are also encouraging their staff that are ill to be off work until they are well. In this way they won’t spread their illness with individuals or other support staff.

Let’s remember that we can begin to think about these things due to the protections that have come from people being vaccinated. Being vaccinated remains the best form of personal protection from serious COVID-19 and offers protection for ourselves and others.

CLBC is grateful for all the steps individuals and families have taken over the past two years to take care of themselves and others. While this next stage is not without challenges, it is an opportunity for us all to begin to reclaim things we had to forgo to remain safe. In all our efforts, let’s remember to be easy on ourselves and kind to each other.

CLBC will hold its next COVID-19 update call for individuals and families on Tuesday, April 19, from 1-2 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time to answer your questions with deputy provincial health officer Dr. Daniele Behn Smith. We will send out an invitation with registration information soon.

Sincerely,

Ross Chilton
CEO, Community Living BC