On Tuesday afternoon, the provincial government unveiled its restart plan for expanding social and physical interaction as well as opening up different sectors of the economy.
The plan will be broken down into four steps and is described by officials as “a slow and gradual return to a more normal life.”
“British Columbians have sacrificed so much over the last 15 months to help keep people and our communities safe,” Premier John Horgan said in a statement.
“We have made tremendous strides with our vaccination program, and we are now in a position where we can move forward with a plan to slowly bring us back together.”
BC’s restart plan is divided into four steps. In order to progress further into the restart plan, factors such as COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths, and vaccination levels will be taken into account.
Approximate dates have also been provided for when the province will move to the next step, although health officials stress that the plan “will be guided by data, not dates.” Health and safety measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing will also remain in place for the first two steps of the plan.
The four steps of BC’s reopening plan are as follows:
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Step 1: May 25
BC enters the first step of its restart plan with more than 60% of British Columbians over the age of 18 vaccinated with their first dose. Those above the age of 12 in the province are also eligible for immunization.
Additionally, the health officials say that the seven-day average for case counts has decreased by more than 65% since early April.
Changes included in Step 1 are as follows:
- Indoor gatherings are allowed with either a maximum of five visitors or one additional household. Events such as a small dinner party are permitted.
- Seated indoor organized gatherings will be permitted with a maximum of 10 people, as well as safety protocols.
- Seated outdoor organized gatherings will be allowed with a maximum of 50 people and safety protocols.
- Indoor and outdoor dining will resume for groups of up to six people — these individuals do not need to be from the same household.
- Recreational travel will be permitted within a person’s respective travel region.
- Outdoor sports games with no spectators can resume as well as low-intensity fitness classes with safety protocols.
- A gradual return to the workplace will begin.
Notably, BC’s provincial mask mandate, business safety protocols, and physical distancing measures will remain in place. A return to indoor, in-person faith-based gatherings is also being planned.
Step 2: Mid-June (June 15)
In order to begin Step 2 of the restart plan, 65% of the adult population will have to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Cases, as well as hospitalizations, will also need to remain on the decline.
The provincial mask mandate, business safety protocols, and physical distance measures are still in place. Health officials, however, will begin a “consultation process” to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings that are held with safety protocols.
Changes included in Step 2 are as follows:
- Indoor organized gatherings will be expanded to a maximum of 50 people, with safety protocols. This includes events such as banquet halls, movie theatres, and live theatres.
- BC’s inter-provincial travel restrictions will be lifted, allowing for recreational travel across the province. Local travel advisories may be in place.
- Indoor sports games and practices for all ages can resume, as well as high-intensity fitness classes (both will require safety protocols).
- A maximum of 50 spectators will be permitted for outdoor sports.
Step 3: July 1
BC will move into Step 3 as early as July 1 and will require at least 70% of the adult population to have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Cases must continue to be low with hospitalizations declining.
Health officials say that they will reveal new public health and workplace guidance around personal protective equipment, physical distancing, and business protocols at this time.
Other changes included in Step 3 are as follows:
- BC will lift the Provincial State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency
- Indoor and outdoor social gatherings can “return to normal,” such as attending a family reunion or having a sleepover.
- Capacity for indoor and outdoor organized gatherings can also increase, although safety plans will still be required.
- Nightclubs and casinos will reopen with capacity limits and safety plans.
- Recreational travel across Canada will be permitted and British Columbians can host friends and family from out-of-province.
Step 4: September 7
The province plans to enter Step 4 in early September (September 7) and 70% of the adult population will require their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Cases and hospitalizations will need to remain low and stable, and clusters must be contained.
This step would include returning to “normal” levels of social contact, increasing the capacity at larger outdoor gatherings, and removing the limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports. Businesses will also operate with new safety plans.
More to come…