BC health officials announced on Tuesday that the province is officially entering Step 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan beginning Thursday, July 1.
The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon at a joint press conference with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
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Premier John Horgan and Minister of Jobs Ravi Kahlon also attended the conference and spoke to various elements of the restart plan.
As part of Step 3, one of the biggest changes includes updated mask guidance. The Face Coverings Order under BC’s Emergency Program Act will be lifted, meaning that mask usage will no longer be mandatory while indoors.
Mask wearing, however, will be recommended in all indoor public spaces for those above the age of 12 who are not yet fully vaccinated.
Additionally, personal gatherings will be expanding in capacity, in an effort to “return to normal.”
Indoor organized gatherings will be permitted for up to 50 people or up to 50% capacity of the venue, whichever is larger. The maximum capacity for outdoor gatherings will be increased to 5,000 or up to 50% of capacity, again, whichever is greater.
This means that events such as indoor weddings, ceremonies, and events may resume, as well as fairs, festivals, and trade shoes — although they will need a Communicable Disease Plan.
Another major change includes the reopening of nightclubs and casinos. Nightclubs will have some restrictions in place, such as a maximum of 10 people seated at tables, as well as no socializing between tables and no dancing.
Casinos may also reopen with reduced capacity and only 50% of gaming stations open and in operation.
Restrictions on dining and liquor service in restaurants, bars, and pubs are also being eased. Liquor service will return to normal hours and group limits can be removed for both indoor and outdoor dining, although no socializing will be permitted between tables.
British Columbia says that it will also return to allowing recreational travel from across the country, provided that they have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.