On May 25, British Columbia entered the first phase of a four-phase plan to reduce public health orders and restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the province.
The first phase, "Step 1," immediately follows the lifting of the province's previous "Circuit Breaker" slate of restrictions, which halted things like indoor dining, faith-based gatherings, and some indoor fitness classes. Those restrictions expired at 11:59 p.m. on May 24, however not everything has been completely lifted.
Travel within B.C., for example, remains limited to essential purposes only, and for recreation within your own residential "zone."
So what does this first phase entail? What can British Columbians resume doing and enjoying once again in this portion of the Restart Plan?
Dinner parties, play dates, sitting inside at restaurants are all back on the table, as are going back to the office and playing sports.
Here are all the new allowances as part of Step 1 in the B.C. Restart plan:
- Maximum of five visitors or one household allowed for indoor personal gatherings
- Maximum of 10 people for outdoor personal gatherings
- Maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols
- Maximum of 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols
- Recreational travel only within travel region (travel restrictions extended)
- Indoor and outdoor dining for up to six people with safety protocols
- Resume outdoor sports (games) with no spectators, low-intensity fitness with safety protocols
- Start gradual return to workplace
- Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place
- Return of indoor in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health
“We have made tremendous strides with our vaccination program, and we are now in a position where we can move forward with a plan to slowly bring us back together. As we have done throughout this pandemic, we will be closely following the guidance of public health and supporting people and businesses as we take the next steps in putting this pandemic behind us,” Premier John Horgan said in a news release.
The restart plan is based on a primary factor of COVID-19 vaccination rates in B.C. The Step 1 threshold was 60 per cent of B.C. residents having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 immunization. Secondary factors include B.C. seeing a declining COVID-19 case count and hospitalization rate.
More details about all steps of the restart plan were also revealed Tuesday.
The soonest we can expect to reach Step 2 of reopening will be June 15.