As B.C. residents wait to learn whether any of the current COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted this week, the province's top doctor has indicated Super Bowl gatherings will be off-limits on Sunday.
Strict, sweeping public health orders have been in place for months in the province. These orders ban social gatherings with anyone outside a resident's household, with some exceptions for those who live alone.
They were extended last month, and are in effect at least until Feb. 5.
Health officials said they will give an update Friday on next steps involving restrictions, as well as the latest modelling and case data.
But already on Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry was telling football fans not to make weekend plans.
Speaking at a news conference in Victoria, the doctor said bluntly, "I am calling on everybody right now: Hold off on the Super Bowl celebrations this year. You should not be planning – whether it's at home, in a bar, a restaurant – viewings of the Super Bowl."
Lunar New Year and Family Day are also coming up, and spring break is not far away.
"These are occasions when we would normally take some time away, or get together with friends and family in our homes, at restaurants and bars, or elsewhere. Like the December holidays, this year we do need to celebrate safely," Henry said.
"We are not there yet."
Henry said what she's hearing from inspections is that in many cases, there were good plans in place at venues, but as the drinks flowed, it was hard for staff to keep people from congregating.
"And we know that that's where this virus can be transmitted."
She said it's important to maintain precautions currently in place to reduce widespread community transmission until health officials have a better handle on how COVID-19 variants are spreading.
Henry said gatherings of any type, whether in homes or elsewhere, are "very high-risk right now and should not be happening."
There's been a decrease in cases in school-aged children, and in older people, but there's been an increase in the 19-to-34 age group, with many cases tied to social exposures.
Last week, the B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licencees said some bars and restaurants are worried health officials including Henry will throw another last-minute wrench in their Super Bowl Sunday plans.
The day before New Year's Eve, the doctor announced that liquor sales would be cut off at 8 p.m., and some businesses said they faced a wave of cancelled reservations and wasted food.
So far, Henry has not said whether such a restriction may be put in place again on Sunday. Asked about it Monday, she said there are discussions happening with those the industry.
"My message to people who are running bars and pubs and restaurants (is) you have to make sure that you have the important safety provisions in place, and WorkSafeBC and our environmental health inspectors will be stepping up their monitoring and enforcement of that," she said.
But, she said, it's on the public as well to take responsibility and follow the rules.
As for what those rules are, Health Minister Adrian Dix reiterated that those who want to watch the game are only allowed to watch it with people in their households. No parties, and no gathering at restaurants with people outside their households.