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What you need to know about B.C.'s plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. plans to end state of emergency, lift mask mandate by Canada Day
BC-Restart-Plan-5
Overview of B.C.'s 2021 restart plan.

B.C. restaurants, pubs, and gyms are allowed to return to indoor dining starting today, while the province readies to reopen movie theatres, live events, casinos, and nightclubs through June and into July. 

The province unveiled a four-step reopening plan on Tuesday based on minimum targets for vaccinations against COVID-19, as well as a decline in cases and hospitalizations across B.C. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province has met its first target of 60% of adults 18 and older having been immunized with their first dose of a vaccine.

“Today we begin the road of bringing British Columbians back together,” said Premier John Horgan. "It means you'll be able to have more guests over to your home or have a barbecue tonight in your backyard."

The earliest the province plans to lift its state of emergency is July 1, based on a 70%  vaccination target, and when updated workplace safety plans should be ready, the province said. 

Provincial travel restrictions will continue until mid-June, while a provincewide mask mandate will remain until at least July 1 after which they will be recommended. The province plans for masks to be a personal choice by September.

"Everyone’s level of comfort and tolerance for risk will be different,” the province said in presentation materials explaining its plan.

“We must support our friends, family and community to get vaccinated, including their second doses. We will enter the fall and winter respiratory season as a community vaccinated against COVID-19. We will continue to monitor and respond to COVID-19.”

Current first dose vaccination rates in Peace River North are at 37%, and 46% in Peace River South, and 49% in Fort Nelson.

“We'll be monitoring the data and we’ll be giving dates. But this will be based on the data, not the dates, and we'll be learning as we go,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Here’s a look at the plan:

BC-Restart-Plan-4B.C.'s 2021 restart plan for organized gatherings. By B.C. Government Handout

Step 1: May 25

Based on 60% of adult population with Dose 1; COVID-19 cases stable, hospitalizations stable

  • Maximum of five visitors or one household allowed for indoor personal gatherings

  • Maximum of 10 people for outdoor personal gatherings

  • Maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols

  • Maximum of 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols

  • Recreational travel only within travel region (travel restrictions extended)

  • Indoor and outdoor dining for up to six people with safety protocols

  • Resume outdoor sports (games) with no spectators, low-intensity fitness with safety protocols

  • Start gradual return to workplace

  • Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place

  • Return of indoor in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health

BC-Restart-Plan-1B.C.'s 2021 restart plan for businesses. By B.C. Government Handout

Step 2: Mid-June (June 15 earliest date) 

Based on 65% of adult population with Dose 1; COVID-19 cases declining, hospitalizations declining

  • Maximum of 50 people for outdoor social gatherings

  • Maximum of 50 people for seated indoor organized gatherings (banquet halls, movie theatres, live theatre) with safety protocols

  • Consultation process to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings with safety protocols

  • No B.C. travel restrictions check local travel advisories

  • Indoor sports (games) and high-intensity fitness with safety protocols

  • Spectators for outdoor sports (50 maximum)

  • Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place

BC-Restart-Plan-2B.C.'s 2021 restart plan for sports and activities. By B.C. Government Handout

Step 3: Early July (July 1 earliest date)

Based on 70% of adult population with Dose 1; COVID-19 cases low, hospitalizations declining

  • Provincial state of emergency and public health emergency lifted

  • Returning to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings

  • Increased capacity for indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, with safety plans

  • Nightclubs and casinos reopened with capacity limits and safety plans

  • New public health and workplace guidance around personal protective equipment, physical distancing and business protocols

BC-Restart-Plan-3B.C.'s 2021 restart plan for travel. By B.C. Government Handout

Step 4: Early September (Sept. 7 earliest date)

Based on more than 70% of adult population with Dose 1; COVID-19 cases low and stable (contained clusters), hospitalizations low

  • Returning to normal social contact

  • Increased capacity at larger organized gatherings

  • No limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports

  • Businesses operating with new safety plans

BC-Restart-Plan-6B.C.'s 2021 restart plan for offices and workplaces. By B.C. Government Handout

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca