VICTORIA – BC is going to roar back to fully normal with a four step plan that will gradually open up all sectors with total freedom from masks and other restrictions by September 2021.
BC announced Tuesday that with more than 60% of adults vaccinated with their first dose and COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations steadily declining, British Columbia is moving forward with the cautious first step of a four-step plan for a careful and safe restart.
“British Columbians have sacrificed so much over the last 15 months to help keep people and our communities safe,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have made tremendous strides with our vaccination program, and we are now in a position where we can move forward with a plan to slowly bring us back together. As we have done throughout this pandemic, we will be closely following the guidance of public health and supporting people and businesses as we take the next steps in putting this pandemic behind us.”
BC’s Restart – a four-step plan to bring B.C. back together will be a slow and gradual return to a more normal life, with safety and health protocols such as mask wearing and physical distancing remaining in place and mandatory during the initial two steps of the plan.
The four-step plan was designed based on data and guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO). Progressing through the steps will be measured by the number of adults vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and deaths, taking into account clusters and outbreaks. While there are approximate dates, the plan will be guided by data, not dates, and will not proceed to the next step until it is safe to do so based on guidance from public health and the latest available data.
“We have been on a long and tiring journey, and now we can start to chart our path forward to brighter days ahead,” Henry said. “To be successful in this next phase of the pandemic, we need to keep COVID-19 low and slow. To do that, we need to be slow and measured in our approach, gradually turning up the dial on how we spend time together – whether that is socializing with family, going to work or visiting friends.”
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart applauded the provincial government and public health officials following the release of B.C.’s detailed and evidence-based restart plan.
“With over 63 per cent of eligible residents vaccinated across B.C., this measured and evidence-based restart plan provides clear guidance to Vancouver residents and businesses and a hopeful pathway to a summer of time with loved ones,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
Starting Tuesday, groups of up to six can resume in-person dining and groups of five can visit indoors with one other household. Mayor Stewart encouraged people to return to Vancouver restaurants as quickly as they feel comfortable.
“Our world-famous restaurant and hospitality industry has been hard hit, but now that we can dine together with friends and family again, I want to encourage everyone who can and feels comfortable to get out and support these amazing businesses,” said Mayor Stewart. “Personally, I can’t wait to have a beer with my wife and some friends, and celebrate how well we’ve done as a city!”
The step-by-step plan will follow approximate timelines and will ease people and businesses slowly out of the pandemic.