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More COVID-19 restrictions lifted in B.C. starting tomorrow

FILE PHOTO - Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry listens to a question from a reporter at a news conference in Victoria, Nov. 24, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
June 14, 2021 - 11:11 AM

Starting tomorrow, life in B.C. is going to look a lot more familiar with more pandemic precautions being lifted.

“With our strong safety plans in place and all of us continuing to use our layers of protection, we can now increase our much-needed connections a little bit more,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, June 14.

“This is a shared effort. This means respecting that those around you may not be moving at the same pace as you that some people in some communities may not yet be ready to receive visitors, or to have gatherings, so check before you go, and that's OK.”

The data supported the transition to Step 2 of the restart, Dr. Henry said.

“We are in a good position right now; hospitalizations, outbreaks, clusters and cases in our community are all down,” she said. “And the minimum threshold that we had set — 65% of adults 18 and over being immunized — has been more than met. We exceeded 75%, which gives us that confidence that we can move forward.”

As of tomorrow, gatherings and events will be amended for outdoor personal gatherings for up to 50 people. Movie theatres, live theatres and banquet halls can also start opening with safety protocols in place.

Indoor faith gatherings will also be increasing with a minimum of 50 people, or for a larger place of worship 10% of that total capacity.

“This means if your location has a capacity for 1,000 people, you could have up to 100 people now in an indoor worship service,” she said.

“The outdoor number remains the same for organized gatherings, But, you no longer have to be seated, so it has more flexibility to have a small wedding outside, for example.”

When it comes to sports as the premier has mentioned, there can be spectators at outdoor sports, so parents can go watch their child's soccer game or baseball game.

In terms of the food and liquor service premises order, it's now amended to allow for liquor service in restaurants, bars and pubs, to be extended until midnight.

The solicitor general also lifted the non-essential travel ban for travel within the province, and this means British Columbians can go visit family or friends across the province and stay for a while, and visit in those communities.

“All other restrictions, events and gatherings and restaurants and workplaces remain in place right now, and we will be working over the next few weeks to transition in those areas as well,” she said. 

“This means indoor personal gatherings in your home remain small, which is up to five people, or one other household. We need to continue with our safety plans in workplaces for events organized gatherings and mass, continue to be important and mandatory in indoor public places.”

Also, physical distancing and giving others space is also still required.

Since the launch of the restart plan on May 25, the government has been working with sector associations and WorkSafeBC to help prepare for the transition into Step 3 when public health orders will be lifted and new guidelines will come into effect. Businesses can expect to see updated guidance available through WorkSafeBC's website prior to July 1. Businesses will then adapt their safety plans to reflect this updated guidance.

More than 200 meetings and discussions have taken place since the launch of BC's Restart plan as part of the government's ongoing engagement. The majority have been with industry organizations that together represent thousands of employers and tens of thousands of employees.

The four-step restart plan was designed based on data and guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control and Henry. Progressing to each step of the plan will be measured by the number of people vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and deaths and other key public health metrics.

The provincial state of emergency has been extended through to the end of the day on June 22, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the province's COVID-19 pandemic response. The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after Henry declared a public health emergency, and can be extended for periods of up to 14 days at a time.

For more details about B.C.'s restart plan go here.

For the latest on travel restrictions in B.C. go here.

To get a COVID-19 vaccination in B.C. go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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