COVID-19: B.C. advances to Step 2, with expanded gatherings, reopening theatres and travel, and more

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      Thanks to all British Columbians who have made efforts to combat COVID-19, B.C. is proceeding to the next phase of the provincial reopening plan. 

      Case counts and hospitalizations have been steadily decreasing over the past month. As of June 11, B.C. had dropped down to 1,880 active cases, with 162 patients in hospitals.

      In addition, over 75 percent of adults have received their first vaccine dose, which surpasses the minimum requirement of 65 percent that had been established for proceeding to Step 2. 

      At a news conference today (June 14), B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix were joined by B.C. Premier John Horgan and Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon in Victoria; and by Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport Minister Melanie Mark from Vancouver to announce the details about reopening.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Premier John Horgan, and and Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon in Victoria
      Province of British Columbia

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix emphasized that it has "truly been a team effort" and that "today's achievement has been created by each of us and shared by all of us". He added that "continuing to work together will bring us all back together".

      Tomorrow (June 15), Step 2 of B.C.’s Restart Plan will begin.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed confidence in the province moving to the next stage in reopening, and said that she will be amending provincial health orders. 

      "The data shows us that with strong safety plans in place and all of us continuing to use our layers of protection, we can now increase our much-needed social connections a little bit more,” Henry said. 

      by Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport Minister Melanie Mark in Vancouver
      Province of British Columbia

      What is changing includes:

      Food and drink: while indoor dining previously resumed, there’s more good news for food and drink establishments—liquor service at restaurants, bars, and pubs will be extended to midnight.

      Sports: 

      • a maximum of 50 spectators will be allowed for outdoor sports;
      • indoors sports games and high-intensity fitness can be held with safety plans in place.

      Gatherings: 

      • a maximum of 50 people will be permitted for outdoor personal gatherings;
      • a maximum of 50 people will be allowed for indoor organized and seated gatherings with safety plans in place, including movie theatres, live theatre, and banquet halls; 
      • indoor faith gatherings can have either up to 50 people or 10 percent of a place of worship’s total capacity (whichever is greater) with safety plans.

      Henry said that dancing and singing are still not permitted at this time.

      Travel: the ban on B.C. recreational travel will be lifted, but out-of-province non-essential travel remains discouraged.

      With travel restarting, British Columbians are asked to “plan ahead and be respectful while visiting communities, especially smaller and rural towns, as well as Indigenous communities—including respecting local travel advisories”. Travel guidelines include getting vaccinated before travelling, following mask guidelines, researching destinations before arrival, and not travelling if sick or self-isolating and calling 811 immediately if symptoms develop while traveling. 

      “We need to recognize that not everybody is at the same place right now, and we need to respect their ability to stay away from others right now,” Henry said, and emphasized staying home when sick and getting tested. “While new cases are much lower, we still do have transmission in our communities, and public heath will be working with you with every single case to stop transmission as it happens.”

      What will remain the same will be mask wearing required in all indoor public and physical distancing. Indoor personal gatherings will also remain limited to five visitors (or one other household).

      The earliest that Step 3 could begin is July 1 (public health orders will be lifted and new guidelines will come into effect), and September 7 for Step 4. Henry had previously explained that there will be pauses to monitor cases and overall progress, and any advancement to next steps could be delayed if necessary. 

      The provincial state of emergency (originally declared on March 18, 2020) has been extended to June 22.

      For today's B.C. COVID-19 update, with case counts from June 11 to 14, see this article

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