VANCOUVER — New COVID-19 restrictions ranging from audience capacities on large venues to the number of people able to attend indoor gatherings are in effect today.

The health measures are scheduled to last until January 31st.

Health officials say the restrictions, which also include the cancellation of all New Year’s Eve parties, are being implemented over fears of the Omicron variant overwhelming B.C. hospitals.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the Omicron variant is adding new and more complex challenges to managing the pandemic.

B.C. reported 302 cases of the Omicron variant on Friday, up from 135 on Thursday.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are expected to announce changes to B.C.’s rapid testing policy on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press