COVID-19: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society

COVID-19: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society

It’s too soon to say exactly how certain sectors will be given the green light to re-open, and when

As health officials work to sort out the particulars around what specific industries and sectors will need to do in order to re-open safely, British Columbians have been given a high-level road map as to what will relaunch, and when.

Led by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the multi-phase plan which has been dubbed “the new normal” will rely on whether B.C. sees a required decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.

As long as British Columbians don’t let up on the basics – frequently washing hands, practising physical distancing, avoiding any non-essential trips, staying home when sick, and taking a careful approach to broadening social circles beyond those currently in their household – there has been much hope voiced by health officials that there could be overnight camping, movie theatres and other social activities returning in coming months.

“We need to have a slow and thoughtful reset, we do not want to undo all that we have done,” Henry said on Thursday (May 7).

ALSO READ: Here’s what is considered an essential service in B.C.

The plan to re-open parts of B.C., curated by Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, will meet its first test in a few weeks, as the province moves to “Phase Two” with the re-opening of libraries, in-person counselling, restaurants and more.

Henry has made it clear that bans will be reintroduced if she sees a resurgence in cases.

Here’s a timeline of how the province plans to phase in various services.

Phase Two, mid-May:

Re-scheduling elective surgeries and other health services

Dix announced this week that health authorities have already started calling patients who were forced to reschedule an elective surgery due to hospital restrictions and so bed space remained open in case of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, other medical services such as dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy and chiropractors will also be able to safely re-open. This includes physical therapy, speech therapy and similar services.

In-person counselling will also be able to resume under physical distancing protocols.

Hair salons and personal services

Welcome news for most: Salons, barber shops and other personal service establishments will be able to accept clients. The decision by health officials comes despite a growing petition signed by some stylists and barbers asking the province not to “single them out” by opening first.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs

In late April, a group of restaurateurs were asked to create a proposed plan on how the industry could re-open safely. Since mid-March, restaurants and pubs of all sizes have been operating only as take-out and delivery services due to concerns of physical distancing.

A possible blueprint, created by the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, on how businesses will have to adjust floor plans, seating arrangements and even the handling of cash, is currently before WorkSafeBC, which will be the final green light before dine-in options can return.

Henry has said that ensuring public trust is a second piece in the puzzle. The proposed plan includes a course that business owners and employees will have to undergo, and if passed, get to place a sticker on their front window.

Recreation and community spaces

Phase Two is also set to include the re-opening of museums, art galleries and libraries, as well as recreation spaces.

Parks, beaches and outdoor sites can also open. As with all other sites, physical distancing must be possible, as well as places to properly wash hands. In some cases, this could mean a cap on the number of visitors at any given time.

Health officials have OK’d some non-contact sports, such as soccer and lacrosse.

B.C. Parks has announced some trails will re-open to day use on May 14, with camping reservations to relaunch on May 25 through the Discover Camping online portal.

Office work spaces

Returning to the office will be likely for many British Columbians, but will have to be under measures that reduce the density of employees within certain areas.

Health officials have suggested that employers may stagger shifts, place physical barriers in between desks and space, and ensure hand sanitizer is available for staff.

All employers should have sick-day policies in place so employees don’t attend work when ill, and consider providing work from home options when possible, to reduce contact intensity.

Child care and education

As parents and caregivers prepare to return to work, the province is anticipating an increased need in child care support.

Child care has been considered an essential service, meaning that was not forced to close down like other businesses. Officials have said that in-classroom education will involve its own set of phases – yet to be released – that will allow kids back in the classroom before others.

“With weeks left in the school year, we anticipate many kids will not return to the classroom until September,” the province confirmed.

Phase Three, June to September

If transmission rates of COVID-19 remain low or in decline, Henry has said that further restrictions will be eased under enhanced measures.

While large-scale events, such as parades or mass gatherings will remain off the table through the summer and possibly into next year, the province is hopeful that British Columbians will be able to go to the movies again, starting in July.

Hotels and resorts

The hotel industry has been hard-hit due to a decrease in overall travel both inter-provincially and internationally, forcing many to shutter.

In Victoria and Vancouver, some have entered agreements with the province to serve as temporary housing for hundreds of homeless people currently living in three large encampments.

Exactly what protocols will be put in place in order for hotels and resorts to open safely have not been released, but will likely involve enhanced cleaning and limited guests. The World Health Organization and Henry have suggested that the bacterium does not live on surfaces for longer than hours to days, but specifics have not been confirmed by researchers.

Camping

Overnight camping will be available across B.C.’s parks beginning June 1. Meanwhile, some private campgrounds have remained open through the pandemic.

Film industry

It’s no surprise that Hollywood North has suffered due to border closures and physical distancing measures. Filming across B.C. tends to pick up in the spring and summer, specifically for Hallmark Christmas movies.

Health officials hope that in June or July that domestic productions will be able to resume.

Entertainment

In July, British Columbians may be allowed to head to the movies or attend a symphony, so long as transmission rates stay low.

While large concerts and festivals are off the table, movie theatres and smaller venues will have to follow current bans on gatherings being less than 50 people. Physical distancing also calls for at least two metres between individuals or strangers.

Education

The next school year will still be feeling the impacts of COVID-19, according to B.C.’s plan.

In September, Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will see a “partial return” to school. It’s too soon to say exactly what that will look like.

Post-secondary students could see a mix of online and in-class lectures, with a likely cap on attendance in larger-sized classrooms.

Phase Four, to be determined

It’s unclear when B.C. will enter Phase Four of the provincial plan, because it relies on the development of a widely available vaccine – which has yet to be created – the province reaching herd immunity, or a broad successful treatment that can manage COVID-19 symptoms.

Henry has said that B.C.’s goal is not to reach herd immunity because too many people, particularly seniors, run the risk of seeing adverse impacts of the virus and high numbers of cases would place too much pressure on the health care system.

ALSO READ: Gaining herd immunity through COVID-19 transmissions ‘ineffective’: B.C.’s top doctor

The BC Centre for Disease Control has warned it could take years for a vaccine to be developed, tested and widely implemented.

However, when that does come, B.C. health officials will look to allowing conventions, live audiences at professional sports, concerts, night clubs and casinos and international tourism. Those sectors will also have to create individually tailored plans that meet the necessary health requirements.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC governmentCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Investigators placed dozens of yellow evidence markers on the ground near the site of a fatal shooting in Langley City early Wednesday morning. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: 22-year-old man killed in targeted shooting in Langley

South Surrey vehicle fire may be linked to homicide: police

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

Surrey-raised actor Michael Coleman in some of the roles he’s played since the mid-1990s. (submitted photo)
Chat with Robin Williams helped send Surrey’s Coleman into world of acting

‘For me, it was a game-changer,’ says co-founder of Story Institute acting school

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read