Personal gatherings and many businesses are allowed to return to pre-COVID-19 operations this week as B.C. public health officials have given the green light to step three of the province’s reopening plan.
Face masks are no longer required in public indoor areas as of July 1, but they are still recommended for people 12 or older who are not yet fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination is not required, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Tuesday.
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) June 29, 2021
“We know that most people in B.C. are doing the right thing, and we expect that to continue,” Henry said. “Staying home when you’re sick remains critical.”
Premier John Horgan said B.C. is able to move to the next step because its pandemic response and vaccination have been as effective as anywhere. B.C. recorded just 29 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours up to Tuesday, only seven of them in the former hot spot of Fraser Health.
Horgan said he will continue to use a mask in public areas with people he doesn’t know, such as riding buses and ferries.
The step three plan calls for a return to pre-pandemic conditions for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings, which have been limited to five people indoors. It also allows sleepovers for children. Indoor fitness classes are also allowed with the usual capacity of group activities.
Organized indoor gatherings, including weddings, ceremonies and events, the limit remains 50 people or 50 per cent capacity of the facility, whichever is greater. For outdoor events, up to 5,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is greater, is allowed as of July 1.
Restaurants, bars and pubs can return to liquor service hours open until midnight, and host events with table limits determined by venue and no socializing between tables. Night clubs can reopen with up to 10 people seated at tables two metres apart, but no dancing. Casinos are being allowed to reopen with reduced capacity and half of their gaming stations in operation, and barriers and masks recommended.
Coordinated with the rest of Canada, B.C. is welcoming visitors from outside the province, with those not fully vaccinated advised to continue to use caution. Visitors should check for local travel advisories before heading to remote communities.