"This will be our summer of hope and healing from this pandemic."
On Monday (June 14), Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that British Columbians may begin to enjoy increased connections as the province movies into Step 2 of its Restart Plan.
"I am confident that we are on track to safely and confidently bridge to Step 2, and am amending the relevant provincial health officer's orders so we can do just that," said Henry. "The data shows us that with strong safety plans in place and all of us continuing to use our layers of protection, we can now increase our much-needed social connections a little bit more. Whether it is travelling to visit family in B.C., having a small wedding or watching your child's soccer game, these are the things we have all missed."
While Henry noted that people may "now increase our much-needed connections, a little bit more," she cautioned that the public health orders are still in place.
"Physical distancing and giving others space is also still required," she said. "We need to recognize that not everybody is at the same place right now and we need to respect their ability to stay away from others."
Outdoor personal gatherings of up to 50 people, including birthday parties, backyard BBQs, and block parties, are now permitted. However, Henry noted that the guidance on indoor gatherings is unchanged — only five people or one household are permitted inside (or one other household).
Moving from Step 1 to Step 2 includes:
* maximum of 50 people for outdoor personal gatherings;
* maximum of 50 people for indoor seated organized gatherings (e.g., movie theatres, live theatre, banquet halls) with safety plans;
* indoor faith gatherings - a maximum of 50 people, or 10% of a place of worship's total capacity, whichever number is greater - with safety plans;
* maximum of 50 spectators for outdoor sports;
* liquor service at restaurants, bars and pubs extended until midnight; and
* indoor sports games (no spectators) and high-intensity fitness with safety plans.
B.C. prepares to safely move to Step 2 of its restart plan
The four-step restart plan was designed based on data and guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control and Henry. Progressing to each step of the plan will be measured by the number of people vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and deaths and other key public health metrics.
The transition into Step 2 of the four-step restart plan aligns with key metrics for moving forward. More than 75 per cent of adults are vaccinated with their first dose, exceeding the target Step 2 minimum threshold of 65 per cent. The other metrics for moving through the stages - COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations - continue to steadily decline.
The Province has formally extended the provincial state of emergency through the end of the day on June 22, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province's COVID-19 pandemic response. The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after Henry declared a public health emergency, and can be extended for periods of up to 14 days at a time.