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B.C. moving ahead with reopening plan

B.C. residents will be able to have gatherings, stay later at bars and restaurants and travel around the province as Step 2 of BC’s Restart Plan comes into effect on Tuesday.

The province announced Monday that groups of up to 50 will be allowed for outdoor personal gatherings, outdoor sporting events and indoor seated gatherings with a safety plan, including movie theatres and banquet halls.

Faith groups will be able to host services indoors, with a safety plan, with up to 50 people or 10% of the building’s capacity, whichever number is greater.

Bars, pubs and restaurants will be able to extend liquor services until midnight. Meanwhile, indoor sports and high-intensity fitness activities can be hosted, with a safety plan and without spectators.

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The Province’s recreational travel ban will also be lifted, but the advisory against out-of-province non-essential travel will continue.

Those who wish to travel are asked to plan ahead and be respectful of safety measures, including travel advisories in place at their destination.

Some rules the B.C. Government has put in place will remain for the time being, however.

“Several fundamental layers of protection will remain in place through Step 2. You’re still going to have to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and current safety measures and protocols for businesses will remain in place until we move to Phase 3,” said Premier John Horgan. “Personal gatherings inside your home should still remain small for now, and we need to make sure we stick to one household or five people.”

“This next step means seeing more of the people we love, visiting more of our favourite places and safely celebrating the major milestones we’ve missed. Better days are in sight, but we must continue to do our part, get vaccinated, keep our layers of protection strong and work together to put this pandemic behind us,” said Horgan.

B.C. officials said the transition from the various steps in its restart plan will be guided by data, rather than dates.

“The data shows us that we are in a good position right now – hospitalizations, outbreaks, clusters, cases in our communities are all down. The minimum threshold that we have set for Step 2, 65% of adults 18 and over being immunized, has been more than met. We’ve exceeded 75%, which gives us that confidence that we can move forward,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer.

On May 25th, the provincial government introduced a four-step reopening plan to help guide B.C. out of the pandemic.

Planned steps and the measures associated with the next three stages are as follows:

  • Step 2 – June 15th:
    • 65% of adult population with Dose 1.
    • Cases declining, COVID-19 hospitalizations declining.
    • Maximum of 50 people for outdoor social gatherings.
    • Maximum of 50 people for seated indoor organized gatherings, such as movie theatres, with safety protocols.
    • Consultation process to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings with safety protocols.
    • No B.C. travel restrictions – check local travel advisories.
    • Indoor sports and high-intensity fitness with safety protocols.
    • Spectators for outdoor sports (50 maximum).
    • Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place.
  • Step 3 – July 1st, at the earliest:
    • 70% of adult population with Dose 1.
    • Cases low, COVID-19 hospitalizations declining.
    • Provincial state of emergency and public health emergency lifted.
    • Returning to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings.
    • Increased capacity for indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, with safety plans.
    • Nightclubs and casinos reopen with capacity limits and safety plans.
    • New public health and workplace guidance around personal protective equipment, physical distancing and business protocols.
  • Step 4 – September 1st, at the earliest:
    • More than 70% of adult population with Dose 1.
    • Cases low and stable (contained clusters), COVID-19 hospitalizations low.
    • Returning to normal social contact.
    • Increased capacity at larger organized gatherings.
    • No limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports.
    • Businesses operating with new safety plans.
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