Theatres, arenas, and other indoor event venues in British Columbia will be able to fill all their seats starting Oct. 25 when public health orders on capacity limits lift.
The return to full capacity comes as the BC Vaccine Card program shifts to requiring proof of two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine starting Oct. 24. The lifted restrictions apply to any venue or business that is mandated to check for BC Vaccine Cards to allow admission or entrance.
Additionally, starting Oct. 25, restaurants and bars in the province can resume allowing patrons to socialize between tables. Diners will be able to physically get up from their seats to interact with other patrons.
Capacity limit caps and restricted socialization mandates will remain in place where there are regional restrictions; such restrictions currently apply to areas in Northern, Interior, and eastern Fraser Health.
However, while people can cross the room at a restaurant, pub, or bar table to chat with friends, nightclubs and wedding venues will still not be able to permit their guests to dance.
"The restrictions on movements was one thing we heard from restaurants and pubs, that it was a challenge for them," explained provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during B.C.'s live COVID-19 response briefing on Tuesday (Oct. 19). Henry noted that restaurant staff are already "bearing the brunt" of having to face customers who are unhappy about the BC Vaccine Card and other restrictions; the eased restrictions kicking in when all patrons must be double-vaxxed to enter such businesses were designed to "make it a little easier" for staff at restaurants and pubs.
Henry added that health officials are "not seeing transmission [of COVID-19] in those settings."
Those eased restrictions don't "go so far as to have a lot of people together dancing," continued Henry, who acknowledged the restrictions are "hardest for nightclubs and bars" whose business models rely on dancing.
With a health system that is "stretched," Henry said restrictions on dancing need to remain in place in order to continue to curb transmission of the virus.
British Columbians looking to hit the dance floor at a wedding or club will, at some point, be able to get footloose and boogie again down the line.
"I hope to be able to take off more restrictions as we get through the next few months," said Henry. "But it's going to be a challenge."
Henry returned to the realm of restaurants and pubs, and once again urged British Columbians to support their local businesses, as well as struggling arts venues where people can attend while "safely sitting."
Further, Henry pointed out that "the mask requirements for indoor settings are still in place," and will remain in place come Oct. 25, when capacity and movement restrictions lift.