By Camille Aubin
[email protected]

The province moved into the second phase of its restart plan on Tuesday, June 15, allowing British Columbians to travel outside their health zones and visit more people.

Officials announced Monday, June 14, that Step Two of the restart plan can move forward as anticipated, since case counts and hospitalizations have steadily been dropping over the past few weeks while vaccinations are progressing. More than 75 per cent of adults have received their first dose, surpassing the Step Two minimum threshold of 65 per cent.

“Thanks to our collective efforts and commitment to get vaccinated, we are ready to take another step forward in our careful restart,” said B.C. 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.”

Step Two entails the following: the ban non-essential travel within the province has been lifted; the out-of-province non-essential travel advisory continues; there is a maximum of 50 people for outdoor personal gatherings; a maximum of 50 people for indoor seated organized gatherings (e.g., movie theatres, live theatre, banquet halls) as long as safety plans are in place; indoor faith gatherings can go ahead with a maximum of 50 people, or 10 per cent of a place of worship’s total capacity, whichever number is greater (with safety plans in place); there is a maximum of 50 spectators for outdoor sports; liquor service at restaurants, bars and pubs is extended until midnight; and indoor sports games (no spectators) and high-intensity fitness with safety plans are okay.

The use of masks and physical distancing in public indoor settings continues to be required.

Unless otherwise stated in the list, all other capacity limits and guidelines from Step One remain in effect.

“I am confident that we are on track to safely and confidently bridge to Step Two, 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.”

The province advises British Columbians travelling within the province to plan ahead and be respectful while visiting remote or smaller towns, as well as to follow local travel advisories. Summer vacationss and travel plans must include the following: getting vaccinated; pre-trip planning and research before arriving at destination; respecting any local travel advisories in place in isolated and remote communities and Indigenous communities; following mask 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.

A start date for Step Three is set for July 1, if at least 70 per cent of the 18+ population is vaccinated with dose 1 (which B.C. already exceeded), along with low case counts and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“Our step-by-step reopening plan is giving British Columbians what they have been waiting for. The best way we can show our love for B.C. is to get out and eat, stay, shop and play. Whether it’s watching your kids play sports outside, going to the theatre or travelling to new and exciting destinations across the province, we can finally get out and support people, jobs and our economy,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.

For more information visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/restart