The COVID-19 case number in B.C. continue to trend in the wrong direction.

The province reported 648 new ones on Friday.  Over the past three days, we’ve seen over 1,700 cases.

The number of active cases in B.C. has now eclipsed 5,000, with another 9,155 people under active public health monitoring.

These new numbers came a day after the province announced that it’s loosening the rules when it comes to outdoor gatherings.

We can now gather outside in groups of up to 10 people. Indoor gatherings are still restricted to family groups. 

The orders for restaurants and bars continue, as does the need to follow all COVID-19 safety plans – at work or school, when we are out for dinner or going to the grocery store.

Today’s new cases include 149 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 372 new cases in Fraser Health, 32 in the Island Health region, 39 in the Interior Health region, 56 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who live outside of Canada.

“There have also been 79 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 717 cases. 

Of the total cases, 99 are active and the remaining people have recovered. 

This includes 667 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 36 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 14 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

To date, 380,743 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 87,024 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are now open for people over 85 and Indigenous people over 65.

“The three vaccines we have available and in use throughout B.C. are a safe and effective way to protect people around the province,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, in a statement. 

“As part of our immunization surveillance activities, we follow strict protocols to identify and address any safety signals that may come up.”

On a bright note, there were no new COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours.

Henry said from the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, “our objective has been to find and maintain our balance – to protect everyone in our province and keep what we can open.”

“With the amended public health order on gatherings and events we can now go outside, but we need to balance that with keeping up our precautions when indoors. If you are going to spend time with friends and family, socialize safely,” she added. 

“This means if you or a family member is at higher risk, you may choose to delay your visit or ensure you are wearing your masks and maintaining a safe distance. It also means continuing to clean your hands and staying away if you are feeling unwell.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is still here, and we are still facing headwinds, which means continuing with ‘few faces, open spaces and safety layers’ in place.”