How much have you missed hugging your friends and family over the pandemic?
While the idea of shaking hands with strangers might seem unsettling for some people, embracing loved ones after several months of virtual contact feels like a dream come true.
Video communication platforms have allowed people to "visit" friends and family over the past year, but these tools fail to replicate the intimacy of in-person meetings.
People who have visited their friends outdoors may have also stopped short of going in for hugs; some of them continue to don face masks around friends they don't live with, too.
But on Tuesday (May 25), provincial officials revealed B.C.'s restart plan, which outlines the new guidance on personal and organized gatherings.
Under the new rules, British Columbians may gather indoors with up to five people or one household in a personal setting. Additionally, up to 10 people may gather outdoors.
As long as everything goes according to plan — meaning cases of COVID-19 continue to trend down — health officials envision that British Columbians will have mostly "normal social contact" by the first week of September.
And that's good news for "huggers."
B.C. Hug Day
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that she has pitched the idea of a "B.C. Hug Day" to Premier John Horgan to celebrate the return of the deeply-missed social embrace.
By July, B.C.'s top doctor said she expects that people will be able to hug their neighbours if "they're people who like to be hugged."
While some people may not like to be hugged, Henry added that hugging is one of the things she misses most.
"I've been trying to pitch to the premier that we should have B.C. Hug Day in July — when we get to that point where we're where we can take our masks off and have those closer social interactions that we used to have with people that we're close to whether that's family or friends," she said.
B.C.'s Restart — a four-step plan to bring B.C. back together — will be a slow and gradual return to a more normal life, with safety and health protocols such as mask-wearing and physical distancing remaining in place and mandatory during the initial two steps of the plan.