On May 25, the provincial government announced BC’s restart plan, a summary of which can be viewed below. Existing COVID-19 restrictions will begin to ease as we progress through each step of the four-part plan, so long as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases and hospitalizations decrease.
As part of Step 1, which kicks off today, the Circuit Breaker restrictions that were introduced at the end of March have been lifted. Key takeaways from Step 1 related to tourism and travel include:
- Residents can travel recreationally within their respective regions; however, restrictions remain in place for travel between BC’s three regional zones.
- Seated organized gatherings can resume with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place:
- Up to 50 people outdoors.
- Up to 10 people indoors.
- Personal gatherings can resume:
- Up to 10 people outdoors.
- Up to 5 people or one other household indoors.
- Groups of up to 6 people (can be from outside your household/bubble) are permitted to dine indoors and outdoors.
Step 2 is projected to take effect on June 15 (at the earliest). During this phase, when at least 65% of BC’s adult population will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, provincial travel restrictions will once again ease and BC residents will be encouraged to explore all parts of the province. Capacity limits for personal and organized gatherings will increase, liquor service will be permitted until midnight, and banquet halls will be able to resume operation with reduced capacity. This phase of the plan will also allow for up to 50 spectators at outdoor sporting events.
Throughout the phases of the restart plan, all businesses will still be required to have an up-to-date COVID-19 Safety Plan in place to operate. In Step 2, the province will conduct roundtables with industry members to develop updated, industry-specific Safety Plans, which will then have to be in place for Step 3, which is expected to start on July 1.
Step 3 will also see the re-introduction of recreational travel across Canada, meaning that we can enthusiastically welcome residents from across the country to explore Kelowna once again, safely. It is likely that in this phase of the plan, we will resume destination marketing outside of the province. When we move to the third step, as noted below, group limits on dining will cease, capacity will once again increase for indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, and a limited number of spectators will be allowed to watch sporting events indoors.
Discussions regarding Step 3 and 4 were minimal during today's announcement, though looking forward, we can see that Step 4 will begin after the Labour Day long weekend, with a return to normal for most aspects of our lives.
More information regarding the plan, including links to applicable Provincial Health Officer orders and travel advice, can be found on the Government of BC website.