COVID-19 in Canada: B.C. removing mandatory masking as of July 1 in next step of reopening, and not everyone is happy

·4 min read
B.C. Restart Plan (Government of British Columbia)

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.