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New public health restrictions aimed at curbing surging cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are set to come into effect just before midnight.  Bars, nightclubs, gyms and dance studios must close and all seated events will be reduced to 50 per cent capacity until the order is scheduled to lift on January 18th.  Restaurants, cafes and other businesses that serve food are allowed to remain open with physical distancing and a maximum of six people per table.


Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says Omicron is rapidly replacing Delta as the dominant variant of COVID-19 in B-C and it’s spreading to people who have been vaccinated or who have
already contracted the virus.


N-H-L commissioner Gary Bettman says it isn’t feasible to send players to the Beijing Olympics because of the profound disruption to the league’s schedule caused by COVID-19.  The N-H-L is battling an explosion of cases that has forced it to postpone dozens of games.  More than 15 per cent of its players are in the league’s COVID-19 protocol.  N-H-L Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr (FEER) says that while players are disappointed, completing the season takes precedence over the Olympics.


One person has died after a multi-vehicle crash in the Newton area of Surrey last night  Around 6:45 p.m., an SUV “lost control and crossed the centre median and struck two other vehicles” on King George south of Highway 10, The driver of the SUV was killed, while the occupants of the other vehicles were treated for minor injuries.  “Drugs/alcohol and speed have not been ruled out as factors the crash is still under investigation.


R-C-M-P say a Surrey man has been released with conditions after being arrested and charged with child pornography offences following a 20-month investigation.  They say the 70-year-old man was charged last week with one count of possessing child pornography and one count of telecommunicating to lure a child under 16.  He is set to appear in provincial court on January 4th.


B-C has hit another COVID-19 record at 14-hundred and 74 new cases today. It comes as more restrictions will be imposed at midnight tonight, closing bars, fitness centres and dance studios to try to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Another six people have died, lifting total fatalities to 24-hundred and nine. Almost 88 per cent of those five and older have had their first vaccination, while 82.7 per cent have received their second shot.


The University of British Columbia says most classes will start online for a what it called a “brief, interim period” amid surging cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The school says the campus will remain open, including student housing, services and libraries, while most classes will be carried out online until January 24th. It says some courses, including those with performance or studio components will continue in-person with appropriate safety protocols in place. Numerous universities across the country have either delayed the start of the term or announced that classes will resume virtually next month. 


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the government’s public health response to the Omicron (OH’-mih-kron) variant. Trudeau says the federal government tried to buy time by adding restrictions at the border when South Africa raised the alarm about the highly transmissible new variant nearly a month ago. Still, local public health agencies have found themselves unable meet the high demand for COVID-19 tests. In some places, people have been told to simply assume they’ve been infected if they develop cold-like symptoms or test positive on a rapid test.


The U-S has authorized a Pfizer pill that can be taken at home to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration announcement comes as America braces for a wave of new infections from the Omicron (OH’-mih-kron) variant that is threatening already-strained hospitals. Pfizer’s prescription pill is the first U-S medication that doesn’t require an injection or an I-V. The drug was authorized for high-risk patients who are most likely to get severe illness.