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British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix responds to questions during a news conference regarding the novel coronavirus COVID-19, in Vancouver, on March 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s health minister says several COVID-19 exposures in the city of Kelowna serve as a reminder of the risks posed by private gatherings.

Adrian Dix said during a news conference Monday that warnings of possible exposures at a restaurant, spin studio, bed and breakfast and resort are believed to stem from “private parties” at the hotels.

An e-mail from Interior Health says eight positive tests for the virus are linked to visits to downtown Kelowna and the city’s waterfront between June 25 and July 9.

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“When people come together for private parties, in this case it was primarily people in their 20s and 30s, the risks are considerably higher,” Mr. Dix said.

The cases involved people who live in three regions of the province, including the Interior, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, he said.

The exposures follow the move to a new phase of reopening in B.C. that allows for tourism within the province. Although the accommodation industry was not ordered to close during the pandemic, many operators did so voluntarily but began welcoming guests again as part of the new phase.

Mr. Dix said the tourism industry has done a good job of creating safe environments for guests, but it’s also up to those guests to ensure they respect physical distancing guidelines and group size limitations.

“Whether it’s a trip or a party at home, the same risks and the same rules apply,” Mr. Dix said.

“We have got to live with COVID-19 for the next year so that means the responsibility is on all of us to understand the risks and understand our responsibilities to one another.”

Interior Health said in a statement on Sunday that a restaurant and spin studio were in addition to a resort and a bed and breakfast identified on Friday in the outbreak.

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Visitors to the Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge on July 1 or the Discovery Bay Resort from July 1 to July 5 were advised to self-isolate and monitor themselves closely for symptoms.

The health authority is now urging visitors to Kelowna’s Cactus Club restaurant on Water Street between July 3 and July 6, or the Pace Spin Studio on July 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 to self-monitor and get tested if COVID-19 symptoms appear.

Public-health contact tracing is under way and the health authority says it is reaching out directly to anyone who has been exposed, where possible.

Testing is recommended for anyone with novel coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or a loss of taste or smell, says the statement from Interior Health.

“Milder symptoms may include runny nose, fatigue, body aches … diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes,” the statement says.

Anyone with even mild symptoms is urged to stay home and avoid travel.

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Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 include physical distancing, washing hands regularly, not touching the face and avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people, the health authority says.

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