/B.C. to lift COVID-19 restrictions on masks, enters stage 3 on July 1 – NEWS 1130

B.C. to lift COVID-19 restrictions on masks, enters stage 3 on July 1 – NEWS 1130

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is easing more COVID-19 restrictions Thursday, meaning masks will no longer be mandatory in indoor, public spaces. Masks will still be recommended in those spaces for people aged 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated.

Premier John Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have confirmed B.C. will move into step three of its restart plan on July 1. That means you will once again be able to dine in large groups at restaurants, bars, and pubs. Table sizes will be determined by the venue and liquor service will return to normal. However, people will still not be able to move between tables.

Thursday will also see a return to usual indoor and outdoor personal gatherings. Organized indoor gatherings (including weddings) of 50 people or up to 50 per cent capacity (whichever is greater) will be allowed.

Outdoor organized gatherings of 5,000 people or up to 50 per cent capacity (whichever is greater) will also be permitted. Fairs, festivals, and trade shows will be able to take place with safety plans. Religious services will be able to take place as normal.

Nightclubs will be allowed to open, with no dancing allowed. Only 10 people will be permitted to sit together at a time, with no moving between tables. Casinos will be allowed to open with reduced capacity and only about half of gaming stations will be open. Barriers and masks will be recommended.

On Thursday, B.C. will also start welcoming people from other provinces to visit. Visitors are asked to continue to be cautious until they are fully vaccinated, plan ahead, and respect any local travel advisories to isolated, remote, and Indigenous communities.

This phase of the plan also means an end to the provincial state of emergency and public health emergency, both of which were brought in, in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold across the country.

When the province announced the four-step plan, the metrics it gave for entering step three were described as at least 70 per cent adults having received at least one dose of vaccine, cases low, and COVID hospitalizations declining.

On Monday, B.C. reported just 38 new cases, the lowest since August 2020. The weekend total was 145 cases, with 57 on Saturday and 50 Sunday.

There were 107 people hospitalized with the illness, including 37 patients in the ICU.

If all goes to plan, B.C. could return to near life as we knew it before COVID-19 in early September.

More to come

With files from Hana Mae Nassar and Claire Fenton