If you were hoping to see some old friends this summer, you might be in luck.
As long as everything goes according to plan — meaning cases of COVID-19 continue to trend down — health officials envision that British Columbians will have mostly "normal social contact" by the first week of September.
On Tuesday (May 25), provincial officials revealed B.C.'s restart plan, which outlines the new guidance on personal and organized gatherings.
Under the new rules, British Columbians may gather indoors with up to five people or one household in a personal setting. Additionally, up to 10 people may gather outdoors.
For organized gatherings, up to 10 people may be seated indoors and up to 50 people may be seated outdoors.
On June 15, outdoor personal gatherings may include up to 50 people, while indoor organized gatherings may have up to 50 people, too.
By Canada Day (July 1), people may expect to see a return to usual for both indoor and outdoor personal gatherings.
'We have been on a long and tiring journey, and now we can start to chart our path forward to brighter days ahead'
B.C.'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 initial stage of the plan will also include a gradual return to the workplace as well as the return of indoor, in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health.
"͞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."
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. 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.”
Henry added that "we have our own levels of vulnerabilities for this virus" so our social circles should only expand in "a small way right now." People also need to know the vaccination status of the friends and family they plan to spend time with.