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Practising safe six

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Jody Vance: New restrictions on indoor gatherings mean taking more responsibility and oversight of your household’s collective social life.

With an ever-growing number of people disengaging from public health updates and new restrictions and orders, today’s Middle is a public service announcement to discuss and – hopefully – share.

First, ponder the question: who is your family’s “safe six?”

“Safe six” is to winter what social distancing was to spring.

As of Monday we have a NEW public health order restricting who can come into your home.

Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement to try and stop the surge we’re seeing here in BC. With numbers spiking after Thanksgiving, it’s now private, in-home gatherings that are the source of outbreaks. In fact, 70% of the current test case positives in BC are linked to private indoor gatherings in the Fraser Health Region.

A quick note to those who search for ways so that public health directives “only sort of” apply, let’s lay out the facts.

Dr. Henry’s latest order applies to your house or apartment. Size doesn’t matter. If you live in a 5,000 square-foot mansion, you are still limited to your immediate family and your safe six. No matter how large your patio might be, the rule applies to you.

Plain and simple, outside your in-home family bubble, we are ALL limited to six people. Not a maximum of six at a time, but six total, whether or not they’re all present at the same time. Get it? The same six specific people, chosen to be in your bubble. They’re the only ones allowed in your home.

That does not include those in your child’s school cohort, unless that child comes over after school and thus takes up one of the coveted spots on your six. Your work associate you see every day (socially distantly) at the office? Same idea – doesn’t count, unless you go to their home.

This must be a family decision, because it’s not a safe six “each.” There might be five people living in your home. The total number allowed into your home? Still six.

See what I’m doing here? Laying it out in simple terms. It’s a maximum of that six indoors.

Let’s talk about socializing outside the home. If you’re going to someone else’s private home for an indoor gathering – are you in their safe six? No? Don’t go.

Not one set of people to go out for dinner, and another for a girls weekend with a different six. No. Hitting your buddy’s garage for a workout or jam session? Not unless you’re in their six, and vice versa.

Until further notice, indoor gatherings of any kind are restricted to a maximum of the people who live in your home + your chosen safe six people.

Got teens or young adults? Their best friend coming over gives them a spot on your safe six. If they go to a friend’s place, it’s up to you/ and them to be in the know about the gatherings taking place there.

Yes, we need to be that level of diligent right now. We need to urge young people to keep their group interactions outdoors and socially distanced.

In terms of enforcement, bylaw and health officials will be ready to punish those who do not comply. Neighbours can report violations just like a noise complaint, calling City Hall or the non-emergency police line. Warnings will likely come first but expect those to escalate to fines for multiple offences. In extreme cases, jail time is on the table.

Public health officers have asked nicely. Now, they’re taking action to get everyone on board with what must be done to halt our provincial surge. Until a vaccine or treatment emerges for COVID-19, the safe six has been added to our must-do list. Spread the word, not the virus.

Winter isn’t coming, winter is here. Early.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

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