A used protective face mask is seen discarded on the ground in Vancouver. in May 2020. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

British Columbia is currently under sweeping restrictions meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, including strict rules surrounding socialization.

Earlier in December, the provincial health officer issued an order in place until at least the end of next week, which includes that residents of B.C. are not to socialize with those outside their household.

While it's been hard for many not to participate in the usual parties with family and friends, the hope is that the tough rules will prevent the usual spike in cases seen in the province over previous holidays.

But if it doesn't work, could B.C. see further restrictions in the new year?

Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked at a news conference Thursday, which was the 160th such news conference hosted by her and Health Minister Adrian Dix since the start of the pandemic.

The health officer said generally officials try to keep all options open.

"Clearly we're watching what's happening not only here but what's happening around the world," she said.

Henry said British Columbians' adherence to public health orders has made "all the difference" in terms of COVID-19's spread.

"We are seeing a decrease," she said, though she's keeping an eye on testing results, as it's possible gatherings held over Christmas and other recent holidays may result in further transmission.

Additionally, there was about a 50 per cent decrease in the number of people who've been tested during the holiday period. Any future action would depend on data that is not yet collected.

"But we have levelled off at a rate, a number of cases, that is still very concerning. We know that this virus can take off quickly," the doctor said.

"So we will be looking at where are the situations that we're seeing transmission, what is the impact of what has happened last weekend, and of course tonight and going into this weekend."

She said this is why health officials put in a last-minute restriction on New Year's Eve alcohol sales – which must end at 8 p.m. on Thursday only.

"In this global pandemic where things are getting worse all around us, we need to pay attention to that. We need to keep doing what we're doing, because we're on the right trajectory. We don't want to blow it now."