There will be a lot fewer COVID-19 restrictions in British Columbia when Canada Day rolls around.
Premier John Horgan on Tuesday officially announced that the province will move into Step 3 of the COVID-19 restart plan as scheduled on July 1.
“British Columbians have stepped up at every stage throughout this pandemic. We’ve helped our neighbours stay safe, we’ve sacrificed time with friends and family and we have diligently registered to get vaccinated. We’ve now reached a point in our vaccination efforts when we can begin to remove restrictions,” Horgan said during a live press conference on Tuesday.
The third part of the four-pronged plan will come into effect on Canada Day and will see several restrictions, including those on personal gatherings, lifted as B.C. continues to work its way back to normal.
Indoor and outdoor personal gatherings are allowed to return to normal while indoor and outdoor organized events, such as concerts, sporting events and shows can resume with limited capacity.
Walk-through events such as fairs, festivals and trade shows can return to normal and worship services will have no restrictions.
“We can go and cheer for our kids at the soccer game or in the arena, we can go to a friend’s place for dinner, we can plan that wedding, we can go to the theatre, we can go to a concert, we can engage again in what makes life so important and that’s the interaction of people together,” Horgan said.
Casinos and nightclubs will also be able to open at limited capacity. However, nightclubs will be under heavy restrictions, with no music allowed and socializing restricted to each table.
Indoor fitness classes can operate at their usual capacity and liquor service restrictions have been lifted entirely.
Additionally, mask-wearing in indoor public spaces will no longer be a requirement for fully vaccinated individuals, but a recommendation as part of the move to Step 3. The province first imposed a mandatory mask requirement back on Nov. 19.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said based on the latest modelling results, British Columbia is making tremendous progress and is ready to move into Step 3.
“We are now ready to move on to the next stage,” she said, later adding. “We no longer need to have orders and directives in place and we can remove those and replace them with the guidance that allows us to live our lives as we move through this next step in the reopening.”
In Step 3, businesses will gradually transition to new communicable disease plans based on guidelines released by WorkSafeBC on June 28.
For many businesses and retailers, physical barriers will still be in place during Step 3, but capacity limits, formal health screening tests and directional arrows, as well as other physical distancing measures, will no longer be required.
“Step 3 is a major milestone for British Columbians,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We can now resume more of the activities and occasions we enjoy, workplaces and businesses will have more flexibility, and it opens the door for more economic activity as we transition into summer.”
Below is a list of changes that will come as B.C. moves into Step 3:
- Return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings;
- Maximum capacity for indoor organized gatherings of 50 people or up to 50 per cent of a venue’s total capacity, whichever is greater — this includes things like concerts, sporting events and shows.
- Maximum capacity for outdoor organized gatherings of 5,000 people or up to 50 per cent of a venue’s total capacity, whichever is greater;
- Return to normal for fairs, festivals and trade shows, with communicable disease plans;
- Return to Canada-wide recreational travel;
- Reopening of casinos, with reduced capacity and ~50 per cent of gaming stations permitted to open;
- Reopening of nightclubs, with up to 10 people seated at tables, no socializing between tables and no dancing;
- Return to normal hours for liquor service at restaurants, bars and pubs with table limits to be determined by venue and no socializing between tables;
- Return to normal for sports and exercise facilities, with communicable disease plans; and
- Mask-wearing recommended in indoor public spaces for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated.
The current restrictions that are part of Step 2 will officially be lifted on June 30 at 11:59 p.m.
With files from The Canadian Press