On Wednesday, the BC government unveiled its plan to reopen the province, sector by sector, including what it said is the lifting of some of its restrictions around physical distancing.
However, people should not be rushing to hug their family members and loved ones right away, said BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Not quite yet,” said Henry during a press conference with BC Premier John Horgan on Wednesday. “We’re telling you the planning … and we have a little bit of time.”
At this point, Henry said, “if we’re doing the same things that were doing in the next week and a half, by the long weekend is the time that we will be able to go out and hug our family.”
Right now, however, “we need to hold the line, and we need to keep our circles small.”
Henry added that some of the onus will fall on individuals to make those types of decisions around expanding their social circles.
“If you expand your circle, then you know your contacts are going to be in contact with their contacts, so you need to do it thoughtfully and you need to understand the risk in your family,” she said. “Spread your circle, but be very careful and very aware. You might have to do it in small steps.”
In its plan, the province outline what it called “core guidelines” for social interaction, which include:
- No hand shaking;
- Practicing good hygiene: frequently washing you hands and covering your cough.;
- Maintaining “reasonable physical distance” when out in the community and using a
non-medical mask or face covering in situations where reasonable physical
distancing cannot be maintained.
And while its okay to “maintain regular social contact with extended family or small
groups of friends,” the plan states that the size of these gatherings should not exceed more than six people, and that safe physical distancing should still be maintained.
“These considerations are especially important when visiting people who are more vulnerable to the health impacts of COVID-19,” the province said.
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Horgan said that the government takes “guidance from right across the province, and what people are saying to me is they’re anxious to get to that next phase, but they’re also anxious to not give up the ground that we’ve made.”
He echoed Henry’s comments when it came to contact with family and loved ones, adding that if “your [social] circle has been tight,” then go ahead and hug your mom.
However, “if your mom has got a compromised immune system, it’s best to keep that distance.”
He stressed that today’s announcement was not that it’s time to get back to normal but rather that “there’s a plan to get back to what will be the new normal, and we’re going to be taking guidance along the way from British Columbians.”
BC’s ban on gatherings of over 50 people is still in effect, meaning events like conventions, live-audience professional sports, and concerts are prohibited.
These reopenings depend on a wide vaccination, “community” immunity, or broad successful treatments.
“Until these things happen, BC won’t be hosting rock concerts or conventions,” said Horgan.