As BC continues to move through a phased-in approach to reopening the province, residents and health officials are starting to look ahead to what Phase 3 will look like and when restrictions and regulations might further ease.
Currently, the province is in the middle of Phase 2, which includes staying home and avoiding any non-essential travel between communities.
According to the provincial government’s plan, Phase 3 of the reopening was scheduled to begin this month and continue through until September. Part of this phase would include relaxed regulations when it comes to people travelling throughout BC – provided transmission rates remain low through Phase 2.
For now, though, non-essential travel within BC is still discouraged, and during a press conference on Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked when exactly the province might officially move into the next phase, and what provincial guidance on the matter – particularly around travel restrictions – might look like.
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“As we’ve talked about before, we’ve been measuring this and watching how we progress in incubation periods,” said Henry. “We are now in week 3 – the second incubation period – so if things continue the way we’re seeing, by the end of this incubation period we should be in a good place to start moving into the next phase.”
That being said, “much depends on what we see day-to-day, so I cannot give you an exact date.”
Henry noted that last week saw a number of steps taken towards the province reopening, including kids returning to the classrooms, and “we need to understand the impact of those, and we are still seeing cases transmitted in our communities.”
As such, “we are moving slowly, and what we will be looking at, though, is how can we take the best advantage of what we have in the summer to do it safely, so that communities that rely on tourism are able to have people come and visit and do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm their capacity,” she said.
Henry’s comments followed her statement at the beginning of Monday’s press conference, in which she noted that when people hit the road this summer, “you are not leaving COVID-19 behind. The precautions you take at home should also be taken when you are away.”
Under enhanced protocols, Phase 3 openings will include the following:
- Hotels and resorts (June 2020)
- Parks – broader reopening, including some overnight camping (June 2020)
- Film industry – beginning with domestic productions (June/July 2020)
- Select entertainment – movies and symphony, but not large concerts (July 2020)
- Post-secondary education – with mix of online and in-class (September 2020)
- K-12 education – with only a partial return this school year (September 2020)