Some, but not all, COVID-19 restrictions in B.C. will be relaxed as of midnight Thursday, allowing bars and nightclubs to reopen and other businesses to operate without capacity restrictions.
However, masks will still have to be worn inside public spaces and vaccine passports will still be required for a while longer, along with COVID-19 safety plans.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced today that restrictions are being lifted entirely from private indoor gatherings. Public indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be allowed at full capacity, subject to use of masks and vaccine cards.
Many of the restrictions were put in place in December in response to the Omicron variant but, with hospitalization and critical care rates trending downward, Henry said incremental steps can be made to relax restrictions.
Restaurants, fitness centres, and swimming pools will be allowed to operate at full capacity, with mingling and dancing allowed, and there will no longer be restrictions on adult sports tournaments.
Henry said today’s announcements were part of the province’s long-term COVID management strategy, and that we need to be prepared for ongoing waves and new variants.
“These changes are taking effect after careful review of where we are in this pandemic, and the credit goes to all British Columbians for their action to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” Henry said.
“We will continue to rely on what is happening in B.C., science and evidence to guide our next steps in this journey to protect people from COVID-19 while safely easing restrictions.”
Remaining restrictions will be reviewed again on March 15 and April 12, including vaccine cards, masks in indoor public spaces, safety plans, visits to long-term care facilities, guidelines for churches, K-12 schools and childcare facilities.
Over 800 people remain in hospital in B.C. as a result of COVID.