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Anticipation is high ahead of Tuesday, when British Columbia is expected to enter the next step of its reopening plan.
With dramatically dropping COVID-19 cases and vaccinations on the rise, it has many hopeful of a brighter summer ahead.
“It’s been strenuous,” said John Whiting, owner of As The Wood Turns. “Financially, it’s been very hard on us.”
Whiting is hopeful for better days ahead. With B.C.’s reopening plan expected to move into Step 2 as early as June 15, the woodcarver expects the Qualicum Beach Farmers Market he sells at to see an increase in business right away. That would help him recover from seven months without sales when restrictions left artisans out of venues.
The second step will bring big changes in the province. All COVID-19 travel restrictions within B.C. are expected to lift and BC Ferries is forecasting a busy summer for travel.
“The essential travel order for our major routes is set to expire at about midnight on June 15,” said Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries’ executive director of public affairs.
“So, that means if it does come into effect, on June 16 we will be able to welcome customers on all of our routes whether they are travelling for essential reasons or they are travelling for recreational purposes.”
Outdoor social gatherings of up to 50 people would also be allowed in addition to seated indoor gatherings of up to 50 people, which means the reopening of movie theatres, live theatres and banquet halls.
Qualicum Beach artist Lynn Haslam told CHEK News she is looking forward to it and said it’s been fascinating to watch the change in people already.
“It’s been nice to see even over the last few weeks since the last phased opening, we can really tell the difference in people’s attitudes if nothing else,” said Haslam, owner of Law Ceramics. “There’s much more of a relaxed feeling with people.”
When restrictions do loosen, the Qualicum Beach Farmers Market is expecting to have to control numbers in the small space.
“We will have to control entry because we foresee it getting busier,” said Qualicum Beach Farmers Market manager Launie Elbes.
However, the slight return to some normalcy is a welcome sign for Elbes.
“I mean next weekend, the pancake breakfast starts. We haven’t had the pancake breakfast since 2019,” said Elbes.