Small dinner parties, backyard barbecues and hugs with family are set to return to B.C., just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, while haircuts and elective surgeries might be available again within weeks.
The provincial government announced its plans Wednesday for a gradual return to normal life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of next weekend, gatherings with two to six guests are OK, as long as there’s a strict understanding that no one will socialize if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing and sneezing.
Even long-verboten signs of affection like hugging extended family members might be acceptable, as long as the recipient isn’t vulnerable to serious illness.
The goal, according to public health officials, is to allow for a return to about 60 per cent of normal interactions, without causing a surge in infections.
The province also set out guidelines for the reopening of some sectors of the economy, on the understanding that physical distancing and hygiene measures can be maintained.
The priorities beginning in mid-May will include rebooting parts of the health-care system that have been idle, like dental care, physiotherapy and chiropractic, scheduled surgeries, outpatient services, diagnostic testing and imaging services.
British Columbians can also expect the return of services like hair salons, retail stores, museums, libraries, restaurants, pubs, office-based workplaces, transit, sports leagues and child care.
Different sectors will, however, be expected to submit industry-specific plans for reopening.
Nightclubs, bars and casinos are unlikely to reopen any time soon, and the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people will remain in place. Conventions, large concerts and live audiences at team sports are out of the question.
Schools/Education – Some openings – but the planning is for September
Restaurants/Pubs – can re-open in Phase 2 – if a Worksafe BC plan for Restart Plan in plan
Retail – other than pharmacies and food stores – same as above –
Entertainment/attractions/events – no rock concerts and large groupings over 50+
Personal Care – barbers, hair salons, physiotherapists, counsellors, chiropractors – will open soon soon – exact dates not stated – requirement for Worksafe BC plans.
Youth Sports – indoor vs outdoor, parks – see above
BC Parks to re-open for May long weekend – DAY use only.