British Columbia’s Reopening Plan

Authors: Alizeh Virani, Graham Christie, Negina Khalil

British Columbia’s reopening plan is a four-step plan focused on protecting individuals and getting life back to normal. 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 (PHO).

Starting May 25, the Province can gradually begin to restart social connections, businesses and activities. To move through the steps, the Province will look for declining COVID-19 case counts, increasing vaccination rates in people 18+, declining COVID-19 hospitalizations, and declining COVID-19 mortality rates.

Step 1: Starting May 25

 The criteria for Step 1 is at least 60% of the 18+ population vaccinated with their first dose, along with stable case counts and COVID-19 hospitalizations. During this step, physical distancing and masks continue to be required in public indoor settings and individuals are required to stay home and get tested immediately if they or anyone in their family feels sick.

Activities Updated Measures
Personal gatherings

Examples of a personal gathering include having friends over to your house or meeting up with friends at a park.

Organized gatherings

Examples of an organized gathering include wedding ceremonies or funerals.

Travel
Businesses
Offices and workplaces
  • Start a gradual return to workplaces
  • Employers must continue to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and daily health check in place
Sports and exercise

Step 2: Earliest start date June 15

 The criteria for moving to Step 2 is at least 65% of the 18+ population vaccinated with their first dose, along with declining case counts and COVID-19 hospitalizations. During this step, physical distancing and masks continue to be required in public indoor settings and individuals are required to stay home and get tested immediately if they or anyone in their family feels sick.

Activities Updated Measures
Personal gatherings
  • Outdoor personal gatherings up to 50 people (birthday parties, backyard BBQs, block parties)
  • Playdates
Organized gatherings
  • Indoor seated organized gatherings up to 50 people with a COVID-19 Safety Plan

Consultation with the sector begins for next steps on indoor and outdoor organized gatherings.

Travel
  • Provincial travel restrictions lifted
  • Recreational travel within B.C. allowed
  • BC Transit and BC Ferries offers increased service as needed
Businesses
  • Liquor served until midnight
  • Banquet halls can operate with limited capacity and a COVID-19 Safety Plan

Consultation with sector associations begins for next steps on easing restrictions.

Offices and workplaces
  • Continued return to the workplace
  • Small, in-person meetings allowed
Sports and exercise
  • Indoor high intensity group exercise allowed with reduced capacity
  • Indoor games and practices for both adults and youth group/team sports allowed
  • No spectators at any indoor sport activities
  • Outdoor spectators up to 50 allowed

Step 3: Earliest start date July 1

The criteria for moving to Step 3 is at least 70% of the 18+ population vaccinated with dose 1, along with low case counts and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations. During this step, masks are recommended in public indoor settings, people should engage in careful social contact, and individuals are required to stay home and get tested immediately if they or anyone in their family feels sick.

Activities Updated Measures
Personal gatherings
  • Return to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings
  • Sleepovers permitted
Organized gatherings
  • Increased capacity at both indoor and outdoor organized gatherings with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place
  • Fairs and festivals can operate with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place
Travel
  • Canada-wide recreational travel
Businesses
  • No group limit for indoor and outdoor dining
  • Liquor service restrictions lifted
  • Bingo halls, casinos and nightclubs can operate with a limited capacity

Businesses must operate based on a new sector COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Offices and workplaces
  • Continued return to the workplace
  • Seminars and bigger meetings allowed

Workplaces must operate based on a new sector COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Sports and exercise
  • All indoor fitness classes allowed, usual capacity
  • Limited indoor spectators allowed

 Step 4: Earliest start date September 7

The criteria for moving to Step 4 is more than 70% of the 18+ population vaccinated with dose 1, along with low case counts and low COVID-19 hospitalizations. During this step, masks in public indoor settings are left to personal choice, normal social contact is permitted, and individuals are required to stay home and get tested immediately if they or anyone in their family feels sick.

Activities Updated Measures
Personal gatherings
  • Return to normal, personal gatherings and social contact permitted
Organized gatherings
  • Increased capacity at large organized gatherings, like a concert
Travel
  • Canada-wide recreational travel
Businesses
  • Businesses will continue to operate based on the new COVID-19 safety guidelines and their updated COVID-19 Safety Plan
Offices and workplaces
  • Workplaces fully reopened
Sports and exercise
  • Return to normal sport competitions with an updated COVID-19 Safety Plan in place
  • Increased outdoor and indoor spectators

As restrictions are lifted employers will need to consider how they plan to adjust their own workplaces. Employers may need to consider the following:

  • How and when will remote workers return to the worksite?
  • What work from home policies and practices will remain in place as employees return to the worksite?
  • What health and safety measures will employers need to add, modify or remove as government restrictions change?
  • How will COVID-19-related employee accommodation requests be addressed?

Our Labour and Employment team is available to assist employers as they address these and any other legal considerations related to the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.