Northern B.C. residents can now look forward to large outdoor gatherings, indoor dining, and participating in sporting events as certain restrictions in the province have been lifted.

Restaurants, bars, and pubs, as well as indoor fitness facilities, can return to existing safety protocols in place prior to the circuit breaker restrictions announced in April. 

The province announced a four-step restart plan to promote a slow and gradual return to a more normal life, while safety and health protocols such as mask-wearing and physical distancing will remain in place during the initial two steps of the plan.

The four steps currently have tentative dates set and will depend on COVID-19 case counts, vaccination rates for residents 18+, hospitalizations, and COVID-19 mortality.

Step one begins today (Tuesday), and now up to fifty people are allowed at seated outdoor organized gatherings, indoor and outdoor dining is allowed with up to six people at a table, and outdoor sports games with no spectators are allowed.

“We are in a different place than we were six weeks ago, in the past month we’ve had more British Columbians register and receive vaccinations in record numbers across the province across all age groups,” said Dr.Bonnie Henry.

Additionally, indoor faith-based gatherings are now allowed with reduced capacity, based on consultation with public health.

BC is hoping to move onto Step 2 on June 15th at the earliest, as the province is hoping to have at least 65% of the adult population vaccinated with one dose of a vaccine by then, followed by Step 3 on July 1st with at least 70% of the adult population vaccinated.

“We know that if we have a certain amount of people protected or at least partially protected, that is one of the markers we can use to ease certain restrictions on society,” said Doctor Bonnie Henry.

Finally, the province is hoping to move to Step 4 on September 7th, by then the province is anticipating having more than 70% of the adult population vaccinated with one dose.

For Step 1 and Step 2, restaurants, bars, and pubs, as well as indoor fitness facilities, are to return to the existing safety protocols that were in place prior to the circuit breaker restrictions.

For other sectors, existing safety protocols remain in place for Step 1 and Step 2, including existing safety protocols at schools and daycares.

In Step 1, hotels and other accommodation providers are encouraged to welcome guests from inside their region, and in Step 2 the invitation can be extended to guests from throughout the province.

Prior to steps 3 and 4, sector associations will work with public health and WorkSafeBC to update sector guidelines to meet updated public health guidance.

K-12 education will continue to operate under existing protocols for Step 1 and 2, the COVID-19 education steering committee will work with public health officials to prepare for the next school year.

Step 1: Today (May 25th) As of today, 63.8% of all eligible BC residents aged 18+ have received at least one dose of a vaccine

  • Maximum of five visitors or one household allowed for indoor personal gatherings
  • Maximum of 10 people for outdoor personal gatherings
  • Maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols
  • Maximum of 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols
  • Recreational travel only within travel region (travel restrictions extended)
  • Indoor and outdoor dining for up to six people with safety protocols
  • Liquor can be served until 10 p.m.
  • Resume local outdoor sports (games) with no spectators, low-intensity fitness with safety protocols can now resume
  • Start gradual return to the workplace (guidance urging residents to work from home has been lifted)
  • Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols, and physical distancing measures remain in place
  • Return of indoor in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health

During step one, residents can host a small dinner party, attend a small outdoor wedding ceremony, go camping within their travel zone, start participating in indoor fitness classes again and go out to an indoor dining facility with friends.

Step 2: Mid-June (June 15 ʹearliest date) Minimum 65% of the adult population with Dose 1, cases declining, COVID-19 hospitalizations declining

  • Maximum of 50 people for outdoor social gatherings
  • Maximum of 50 people for seated indoor organized gatherings (banquet halls, movie theatres, live theatre reopens) with safety protocols
  • The consultation process to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings with safety protocols
  • Liquor restrictions lifted, can be served until midnight
  • No B.C. travel restrictions check local travel advisories
  • Indoor sports (games) and high-intensity fitness with safety protocols
  • Spectators for outdoor sports (50 maximum)
  • Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place

During Step 2, residents can host a block party, go out to a movie, travel outside their region, watch an outdoor sporting event and consume alcohol at a restaurant until midnight.

BC residents will be encouraged to travel across the province beginning on June 15 and across Canada on July 1 if the current rates of vaccination efforts and case counts continue.

Step 3: Early July (July 1 ʹearliest date) Minimum 70% of the adult population with one dose, cases low, COVID-19 hospitalizations declining

  • Provincial state of emergency and public health emergency lifted
  • Returning to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings
  • Increased capacity for indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, with safety plans
  • Nightclubs and casinos reopened with capacity limits and safety plans
  • New public health and workplace guidance around personal protective equipment, physical distancing, and business protocols
  • The tourism industry can accept bookings from people outside of BC and residents host friends or family visiting from out-of-province

Step 3 allows residents to attend a family reunion, meet friends at a large outdoor gathering, host friends or family visiting from out-of-province, attend a drop-in fitness class, go any direction down the aisles at the grocery store and attend a work meeting outside the office.

Premier John Horgan said that sometime in August between Step 3 and 4, a CFL season with fans in the stands may be possible.

Step 4: Early September (Sept. 7 ʹearliest date) More than 70% of adult population with one dose, Cases low and stable (contained clusters), COVID-19 hospitalizations low

  • Returning to normal social contact
  • Increased capacity at larger organized gatherings (example: concerts)
  • No limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports
  • Businesses operating with new safety plans
  • No more masks mandate, just recommended

When BC hits Step 4, residents can host a Halloween party, attend a concert, watch an indoor sporting event or go out to a club with friends.

“Beginning today we will be working as an all of government approach, working with sector associations on those safety plans,” explained Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

Roundtables will be initiated by ministries across government to engage with industry and labour to develop comprehensive updated industry-specific Safety Plans – as well as engaging with First Nations and municipal governments.

Additionally, WorkSafeBC will continue to update their safety plans, and continue to update its 30 industry-specific protocols. 

“I am excited and confident we in BC have taken the steps to get to the end of this pandemic. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting stronger and brighter,” said Henry.