"We are trying to shift toward personal responsibility and business responsibility."
That's B.C.'s top health officer, who says she is "optimistic" that the province is moving toward a better place in the coronavirus pandemic but emphasizes that it is still in a "transition" phase.
Additionally, this is a time for people to start to "come together" again and resume activities they haven't been able to enjoy for a long time. However, they must take accountability for themselves.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing Tuesday (March 1) that the province will continue to take a slow and measured approach as it transitions to its next phase of its response. Public health will continue to evolve and adapt its response based on the current epidemiological situation in the province, she said.
But heading toward spring break, the province will be "removing restrictions and layers of protection," noted B.C.'s top doctor.
"As soon as we are confident we can safely make those changes and we can support everybody in doing that," Henry said, adding that this spring is a "natural transition time" when social activities are especially important, particularly for young people, including graduations, performances and concerts.
Workplaces are also pivoting toward more "in-person" meetings and schedules, with many of them already doing so.
Looking forward into B.C.'s COVID-19 approach
Henry noted, however, that "we need to be prepared for immunity to wane again," and to adapt new approaches "depending on what we see come in the fall."
Ultimately, the health officer emphasized that people need to start asking themselves about their personal responsibility as health restrictions are relaxed in the province.
"What are the important things that you need to do? We know that there are people in our workplaces, people in our social networks, who are immune-compromised, who are older, who we want to spend time with, where we know the vaccines don't work as well," she said.
"So yes, we all need to continue to be respectful. We need to have a 'mask positive' environment we know that it makes a difference."
The health officer said COVID-19 safety tools, such as physical distancing and face masks, will not be "abandoned" as immunity wanes over time.