Beginning on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, British Columbia will take the next step in safely bringing people back together, transitioning into Step 2 of BC’s Restart plan, including lifting restrictions on travel within B.C.
“Thanks to our collective efforts and commitment to get vaccinated, we are ready to take another step forward in our careful restart,” said Premier John Horgan. “This next step means seeing more of the people we love, visiting more of our favourite places and safely celebrating the major milestones we’ve missed. Better days are in sight, but we must continue to do our part, get vaccinated, keep our layers of protection strong and work together to put this pandemic behind us.”
The transition into Step 2 of the four-step restart plan aligns with key metrics for moving forward. More than 75% of adults are vaccinated with their first dose, exceeding the target Step 2 minimum threshold of 65%. The other metrics for moving through the stages – COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations – continue to steadily decline.
“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 Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. “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.”
Public health safety protocols, such as mask wearing in all indoor public spaces and physical distancing, will remain in place during Step 2. As well, personal indoor gatherings will be limited to five visitors, or one other household.
Moving from Step 1 to Step 2 includes:
- B.C. recreational travel – non-essential travel ban lifted. Out-of-province non-essential travel advisory continues;
- 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.
All other capacity limits and guidelines listed in Step 1 stay in place unless noted in the list above.
The earliest target start date for Step 3 is July 1, and Sept. 7 for Step 4.
British Columbians travelling within B.C. are asked to plan ahead and be respectful while visiting communities, especially smaller and rural towns, as well as Indigenous communities – including respecting local travel advisories. Travel manners and guidelines to follow during summer trips and vacations include:
- getting vaccinated;
- pre-trip planning and research before arriving at destination;
- respecting any local travel advisories to isolated and remote communities and Indigenous communities;
- following masks guideline;
- respecting personal space and practising good hygiene, including frequent handwashing; and
- no travelling for anyone who is sick. If symptoms develop while travelling, self-isolate immediately and contact 811 for guidance and testing.
Since the launch of the restart plan on May 25, government has been working with sector associations and WorkSafeBC to help prepare for the transition into Step 3 when public health orders will be lifted and new guidelines will come into effect. Businesses can expect to see updated guidance available through WorkSafeBC’s website prior to July 1. Businesses will then adapt their safety plans to reflect this updated guidance.
More than 200 meetings and discussions have taken place since the launch of BC’s Restart plan as part of government’s ongoing engagement. The majority have been with industry organizations that together represent thousands of employers and tens of thousands of employees.
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 Province has formally extended the provincial state of emergency through the end of the day on June 22, 2021, 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.