COVID-19 vaccinations are just getting underway for the general public, but B.C.’s top doctor says in the days and weeks ahead we’ll see an easing of restrictions on lower-risk activities.
Soon, British Columbians will be able to visit with close friends and family members who don’t live in their household as restrictions in B.C. are eased.
“What we are looking at as we head into March break is seeing the return of things like gatherings outside where it’s safer, activities outside you can do in groups with precautions in place,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a Monday news conference.
That means backyard barbecues, outdoor sports and even regional travel as transmission rates drop in the spring.
“We’re not going to rush to get things open but we will take a thoughtful, careful and phased approached over the next few weeks,” Henry added. “I like to think of it as slowly turning up the dial rather than flicking a switch.”
But it’s not clear what will be changing when — especially for the province’s decimated travel sector.
“There has been confusion at times and this is another one of those moments because we’re all anxious, very anxious,” said Anthony Everett of Tourism Vancouver Island. “Businesses are really struggling.”
Many tourism businesses have closed and with spring break starting next week, they’re desperate for guidance.
“Businesses can’t just throw their doors open tomorrow,” Everett explained. They have to call staff back — and any number of other tasks to prepare.
Health officials and the premier say the return of in-person religious ceremonies is also in the works, likely in time for Easter.
“By the time we get to the end of this month and into April, people will be looking forward to coming together, in small numbers for sure, but coming together to acknowledge and recognize these important spiritual moments,” said Premier John Horgan.
The potential for a return to a relatively normal life after a year of quarantining and public health orders was thrilling to some who spoke with CHEK News on Tuesday.
“I’m a little stir crazy and I’m kind of excited about an easing of restrictions,” one woman said.
But not everyone is in favour of the move.
“I would love to see them wait a wee bit longer until a few more people are inoculated,” a senior citizen told CHEK News.
By summer, both the premier and Henry hope things will be mostly back to normal.
“We’re hopeful we’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming at that time,” Horgan quipped.