VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If all goes to plan, British Columbians will be able to go to the movies, have small indoor weddings, and go on a summer vacation anywhere in the province starting mid-June. As COVID-19 case counts fall in B.C., the province has outlined its plan to gradually return to near-normal life in the coming months.
While nothing much is changing as of Tuesday, the province is looking at June 15 as the earliest date to allow up to 50 people at indoor seated organized gatherings, like at a movie theatre, live theatre venue, or banquet hall.
Personal indoor gatherings, such as playdates, will still be limited to up to five people or one other household. Outdoors, you’d be allowed to get together with up to 50 people for things like a barbeque or party at a park.
Related article: Timeline: B.C.’s restart plan
June 15 is also the day recreational travel would be permitted anywhere in B.C.
“As we get into the middle of June, if things are going in the right direction, we’ll be able to open up B.C. to B.C. and I encourage everybody to … go explore British Columbia with your family, with your friends,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.
“We do this by monitoring infections in the community, by making sure that we keep hospitalizations down, and we make sure that our ICUs are not at capacity,” said Premier John Horgan.
In this stage of re-opening, alcohol service is set to be allowed until midnight. Right now, that is only permitted until 10 p.m.
Other changes slated for mid-June include high-intensity fitness classes, outdoor sports with up to 50 spectators, and indoor team games for all ages with no spectators.
For now, only low-intensity indoor fitness classes can happen, and no spectators are allowed.
“Those soccer game that we’ve been missing, we’re now able to play games. Though, we won’t be travelling. They will be local games for all ages and with no spectators in this bridging period right now,” Henry said.
All individual safety measures, including wearing masks in indoor public spaces and physical distancing, will still apply.
These changes slated for mid-June make up one of several steps in B.C.’s plan to gradually remove restrictions. By July, we’re looking at a return to things like inter-provincial travel, the re-opening of nightclubs and casinos, and being allowed to attend a family reunion.
By September, the hope is we’ll be back to normal social contact with concerts and fully re-opened workplaces — and we may finally be able to ditch the masks.
The re-opening plan is contingent on case counts and hospitalizations continuing on their downward trends, and more doses of COVID-19 vaccine getting into arms.
When it comes to the idea of documentation of vaccination to allow you to travel within the province or go into stores, Henry says she has no plans to require “vaccine passports.”
“This virus has shown us that there are inequities in our society that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, and there is no way that we will recommend inequities be increased our use of things like vaccine passports for services, for public access here in British Columbia,” she said, adding the premier and Health Minister Adrian Dix has supports her opinion.
However, she says she does believe such documentation is a good idea for international travel.
“That is something we’re working with our colleagues and the Public Health Agency and at the federal level to make sure that Canadians have access to travel in the same way that other countries do,” she said. “But it would not be my advice that we have any sort of vaccine passport … for services in B.C.”
BREAKING: BC's restart 4-stage plan
1/ Now – indoor dining, sports games outdoors
2/MidJune-BC travel, 50 ppl gatherings, indoor games
3/Jul1-Canada travel, no limit dining, work large mtgs
4/Sep-Concerts,normal sports competition, offices fully open#bcpoli #covid19 @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/LzPPLaSEXL
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) May 25, 2021
At 12 a.m. May 25, B.C.’s “circuit breaker” restrictions, which shut down indoor dining at eateries, expired. As of now, indoor and outdoor dining is allowed, with up to six people at a table.
Outdoor personal gatherings are still restricted to up to 10 people, and indoor gatherings of up to five people or one household is allowed.
A ban on non-essential visits outside of your travel zone within B.C. also remains in place until at least mid-June.
COVID-19 vaccination rates have been climbing, with more than 60 per cent of adults in B.C. having received at least one dose. Everyone aged 12 and up are now eligible to register and receive a dose.
Meanwhile, daily caseloads have been steadily falling across B.C. On Monday, for the first time in six months, fewer than 300 cases were recorded.
Hospitalization rates have also been falling. The province says the seven-day average peak was 505 in early May. As of May 21, that figure was down to 353.