Premier John Horgan arrives to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty's Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. British Columbia's plans to restart the province with the methodical lifting of strict COVID-19 health restrictions are set to be announced today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. outlines plan to end COVID-19 restrictions; eyes September return to normal

B.C. outlines plan to end COVID-19 restrictions; eyes September return to normal

VICTORIA — British Columbia is planning for a return to normal life after Labour Day as part of its four-step COVID-19 reopening plan.

The plan started Tuesday with the easing of restrictions that affected gatherings, sports events and dining, both indoors and outdoors.

Premier John Horgan said B.C.’s strong immunization rate allows the province to slowly bring people back together, with Sept. 7 a target date for the final phase of the plan to be implemented.

That means the earliest the public health emergency and provincial state of emergency could be lifted would be July 1.

“It’s an exciting day for all of us,” said Horgan. “We’ve made extraordinary sacrifices as a province and a people over the past 15 months.”

Changes in restrictions will depend on the number of people being vaccinated in the province and as that number rises, more limits will be removed, Horgan said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the restrictions that were lifted Tuesday include allowing indoor and outdoor dining for up to six people, indoor gatherings with five personal visitors and in-person faith-based gatherings, at reduced capacity.

Henry said the province will continue to monitor case counts and the condition of the virus.

“We’ll be staying flexible because we know this virus still has some tricks up its sleeve,” she said.

The earliest travel restrictions could be lifted is June 15, with recreational travel permitted only within residents’ regions.

On Monday, health officials reported 293 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest daily count since late October. Twelve more people died over the three-day reporting period, bringing the number of fatalities since the start of the pandemic to 1,679.

B.C. imposed restrictions at the end of March on indoor restaurant dining and group fitness, while reversing a plan to allow indoor faith services as COVID-19 case numbers soared to new highs.

COVID-19 case counts increased rapidly as variants of the virus began to dominate. Infection rates peaked in early April, while hospital admissions increased and intensive care units filled with patients.

The number of hospitalizations prompted the government to cancel non-urgent surgeries in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions.

The restrictions were supposed to last until April 19 but were extended as more restrictions on travel were introduced.

Travel is limited within three regions, which are areas covered by the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities; the Northern and Interior health authorities; and Vancouver Island. Residents are asked to stay in their regions or risk a $575 fine if they don’t have a valid reason for travel.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2021.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

A Comox Valley 55+ baseball team isa being organized for the 2021 season. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
18U AAA Carstar Braves start season strong

The Red Deer Carstar 18U AAA Carstar Braves started the Baseball Alberta… Continue reading

(Contributed image).
Online poetry reading to benefit Red Deer women experiencing period poverty

The Period Promise Poetry Powerhouse is a central Alberta collective of some… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron, right, celebrates after scoring on Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Montreal hangs on for 3-2 win to even series with Golden Knights at a game each

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (Series tied 1-1) LAS VEGAS — Montreal… Continue reading

New York Yankees Gary Sanchez celebrates his two-run home run during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Cole, Sánchez, Chapman come through as Yanks edge Blue Jays

Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2 BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gerrit Cole pitched eight… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, right, is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers' Matisse Thybulle during the second half of Game 5 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Hawks rally from 26 points down, stun 76ers in Game 5

Hawks 109 76ers 106 (Atlanta leads series 3-2) PHILADELPHIA — Trae Young… Continue reading

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

OTTAWA — Annamie Paul is firing back against the coterie of party… Continue reading

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan leaves the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Bill to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clears Senate

OTTAWA — A landmark piece of Liberal legislation aimed at harmonizing Canada’s… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) flips a shot on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Russian goalies highlight Lightning-Islanders series

NEW YORK — Semyon Varlamov is the wily veteran, coming off a… Continue reading

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime reacts during his ATP Tour Singles, Men, Round of 16 tennis match against Switzerland's Roger Federer in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Friso Gentsch-dpa via AP
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Roger Federer in second round of Noventi Open

HALLE, Germany — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime earned one of the biggest victories… Continue reading

A course official keeps out of the sun on the seventh green during a practice round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A different US Open than imagined at Torrey Pines

The spectacular ocean vistas will fill TV screens as usual, along with… Continue reading

Most Read