British Columbia Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday that as of Thursday, July 1 the province will move into Step 3 of restart plan.
"British Columbians have stepped up at every stage throughout this pandemic," a statement from Horgan reads. "We’ve helped our neighbours stay safe, we’ve sacrificed time with friends and family and we have diligently registered to get vaccinated."
"We’ve now reached a point in our vaccination efforts when we can begin to remove restrictions. Let’s continue to respect everyone’s comfort level as we safely take another step toward putting this pandemic behind us."
Step 3 marks the end of the provincial state of emergency but B.C.’s public health emergency will remain in effect.
Mask-wearing will not be mandatory in this next reopening step but masks are recommended in indoor public spaces for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated.
"That doesn't mean that mask wearing is not important, it certainly is," Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer said.
"We have done a great job of decreasing transmission in the province. When transmission is low and immunization is high, even with a single dose of vaccine, our protection is high enough that we no longer need some of the restrictive measures."
B.C. is also welcoming individuals from other provinces or territories with the return of Canada-wide recreational travel.
"We welcome Canadians back to B.C. provide you’ve had those two vaccinations, provided that you check before you arrive to make sure that where aren’t local restrictions in place," Dr. Henry said.
Other loosened restriction coming to B.C. on July 1 include:
Return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings
Maximum capacity for indoor organized gatherings of 50 people or up to 50 per cent of a venue’s total capacity (whichever is greater)
Maximum capacity for outdoor organized gatherings of 5,000 people or up to 50 per cent of a venue’s total capacity, whichever is greater
Return to normal for fairs, festivals and trade shows, with communicable disease plans
Reopening of casinos, with reduced capacity and ~50 per cent of gaming stations permitted to open
Reopening of nightclubs, with up to 10 people seated at tables, no socializing between tables and no dancing
Return to normal hours for liquor service at restaurants, bars and pubs with table limits to be determined by venue and no socializing between tables
Return to normal for sports and exercise facilities, with communicable disease plans
Mask wearing recommended in indoor public spaces for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated
Dr. Henry added that there is no need for people to provide proof of vaccination.
"We know that most people in British Columbia are doing the right thing and we expect that will continue," she said.
Over 78 per cent of adults in B.C. have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 30 per cent have received two doses.
People in B.C. have been sharing their thoughts on the move to loosen restrictions.
July 1 in BC:
-State of Emergency ends
-Mask mandate ends
-Social distancing ends
-Restaurant capacity limits end
-Fairs and festivals are back
-Outdoor concerts are back
Vaccines end pandemics. You absolutely love to see it! #bcpoli
— Death of Nuance (@Death_Of_Nuance) June 29, 2021
As some who has conditions that compromise me, even though I am fully vaccinated, I will still be wary. I will wear a mask in indoor places. The virus is still prevalent in BC and the Delta variant is gaining strength in Canada and will affect people, even if jabbed.
— David Futter (@DavidFutter) June 29, 2021
I think first doses are extremely effective and BC shows it, but I'm also frustrated at things like mask mandates lifting when I/a lot of service workers my age don't have a 2nd dose and so much messaging has been about how important the second dose is/"fully vaccinated."
— Cazzy (run by solar power) (@Cazzy) June 29, 2021
BC moving to Stage 3 of 4 in the Restart Plan.
Mask use changes on July 1st from mandatory to recommended as per the guidelines Dr. Henry announced. I think this is fair and reasonable guidance.
I will be fully vaxxed on July 9th - 2nd dose + 14 days. pic.twitter.com/LMzt378WBZ
— 𝐑𝐨𝐛-YVR 📸 (@RobSpicerYVR) June 29, 2021
super unimpressed with bc ending the mask mandate before everyone’s fully vaccinated
— Nathan Shubert (@nathanshubert) June 29, 2021
Just found out BC is lifting all mask mandates as of July 1st
I haven't been able to get in for my second shot yet
My anxiety is sky rocketing ):
— Freckle Dog Leon! (@Leon_SpottyDog) June 29, 2021