https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/covid-19-a-look-at-what-restrictions-could-lift-in-b-c-on-wednesday


B.C. COVID restrictions lifted: A list of what you’ll be able to do as of Feb. 16

Here are the COVID-19 restrictions that will be lifted across B.C. as of Feb. 16, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

Author of the article:

Staff Reporter

Publishing date:

Feb 15, 2022  •  3 hours ago  •  5 minute read  •   153 Comments

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on February 15, 2022.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on February 15, 2022. PHOTO BY FELIPE FITTIPALDI /PNG

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On Tuesday afternoon, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced changes to some of British Columbia’s wide-ranging COVID-19 restrictions.

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The come into effect on Feb. 16 at 11:59 p.m. — which is when the previous gatherings and events order was set to expire.

This comes as B.C. moves from a COVID-19 pandemic to endemic — in which the disease is consistently present (like HIV, hepatitis C and many of the common flus) but is not out of control.

Here’s a look at some of the key COVID-19 restrictions in place and which ones have changed.


A Vancouver Canucks fan holds up a t-shirt during the NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rogers Arena December 12, 2021 in Vancouver.
A Vancouver Canucks fan holds up a t-shirt during the NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rogers Arena December 12, 2021 in Vancouver. PHOTO BY JEFF VINNICK /PNG

CHANGED – GATHERINGS AND EVENTS

The order on gatherings and events was last updated on Jan. 27 when the Omicron variant was surging in the province.

It links social connections, especially when alcohol is involved, to rapid spread of the disease and targeted indoor and outdoor personal gatherings/indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, indoor events at venues, exercise and fitness facilities, sports activities and casinos/places of worship, workplaces and festivals.

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Among its toughest rules were an outright ban on indoor wedding receptions and funeral receptions and ticketed indoor parties.

Indoor venues like concerts, theatres, sports venues and casinos could operate at only half capacity. Places of worship where at least one person is unvaccinated could also be only at half capacity. Adult sports tournaments were banned, as was any public indoor dancing.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

As of Feb. 16 at 11:59 p.m., indoor personal gatherings can return to normal, while all indoor and outdoor organized gatherings such as weddings can return to normal with full capacity. However, masks and B.C. Vaccine Cards are still required for indoor organized gatherings.

Indoor seated events such as movie screenings can also resume with full capacity, though also with masks and B.C. Vaccine Cards checked at the door.

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Fitness centres, adult sports, dance and swimming activities can return with full capacity. There are also no sports tournament restrictions. Again, masks and B.C. Vaccine Cards continue to be required at these venues.


People wearing masks in downtown Vancouver.
People wearing masks in downtown Vancouver. PHOTO BY FRANCIS GEORGIAN /PNG

UNCHANGED – MASK WEARING

Mask wearing in B.C. is governed by the face coverings order that was updated on Dec. 3, 2021 and has no expiry date.

It states that “properly worn face coverings are one measure that has been shown to suppress the transmission of (COVID-19) and to reduce the risk of contracting (COVID-19) in both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.”

Under this order, masks are required in all public indoor settings for all people aged five and over.

This includes coffee shops, inside schools, community centres, malls, retail stores, libraries and places of worship.

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There are exemptions for people with health conditions or mental impairments who cannot wear a mask, for people who cannot remove a mask on their own and people who need to remove their masks to communicate due to another person’s hearing impairment.

Alberta has already lifted the mask mandate in schools (leading to a protest from some students on Monday) and announced anyone 12 and under doesn’t have to wear a mask in any setting. The province is set to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on March 1.

Ken Denik, a UBC geography professor emeritus, predicts B.C. will keep mask orders in place for the time being.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

The mask requirement for indoor public venues is unchanged and remains in place for the time being.

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This restriction will be reviewed by March 15 and again by April 12.


A server clears a table on a patio at a restaurant, in Vancouver, on Friday, April 2, 2021.
A server clears a table on a patio at a restaurant, in Vancouver, on Friday, April 2, 2021. PHOTO BY DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS files

CHANGED – PUBS, RESTAURANTS AND NIGHTCLUBS

These venues are all affected by the food and liquor serving premises order that was updated last Monday when Henry allowed pubs and nightclubs to offer catered food and so be able to reopen.

Until that point, only pubs, bars and nightclubs that served full meals could remain open.

Under this order, which has no expiry date, indoor and outdoor dining is allowed with a maximum of six people a table and a distance of two metres between tables.

Customers were to stay seated and cannot move between tables, and masks must be worn when not seated.

This order also dictated that there is no dancing allowed, including in nightclubs.

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WHAT’S CHANGED?

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs are now permitted to return to full capacity, with no table limits. Mingling and dancing are also allowed though masks and B.C. Vaccine Cards are still required at the door.


A test scan of a vaccine passport is shown at an Econofitness gym in Laval, Quebec, Canada August 17, 2021.
A test scan of a vaccine passport is shown at an Econofitness gym in Laval, Quebec, Canada August 17, 2021. PHOTO BY CHRISTINNE MUSCHI /REUTERS

UNCHANGED – PROOF OF VACCINATION

In September of 2021, as B.C.’s vaccination rate was taking off, Henry announced that anyone wanting to access one of 15 different kinds of public indoor settings would need to prove they were vaccinated by signing up with the B.C. Vaccine Card.

These places include pubs, licensed restaurants, theatres, post-secondary student housing, sports events and indoor skating rinks.

Settings that you don’t need to prove vaccination status include grocery and liquor stores and pharmacies, food banks and shelters, banks and hair salons.

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Business operators are responsible for digitally checking the QR code on people’s vaccine card and must then double check their identity. This applies to anyone aged 12 and over.

Henry had initially said this requirement of proof would be lifted on Jan. 31, 2022. However, as the Omicron variant took hold it was extended until June 30.

Given the government’s continuing push to get all British Columbians vaccinated, this rule will not likely change on Wednesday.

Ontario will lift its proof of vaccination order on March 1.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

The proof of vaccination requirement is unchanged and remains in place for the time being.

This restriction will be reviewed by March 15 and again by April 12.


OTHER RESTRICTIONS

A number of other restrictions remain in place, however, these are due for review by March 15 and April 12. Those include:

• Masks in indoor places
• B.C. Vaccine Card
• COVID-19 safety plans required at businesses
• Long-term care visitation requirements
• K to 12 and childcare guidelines
• Faith community guidelines
• Restrictions on child and youth overnight camps
• Industrial camp order

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