‘The circuit breaker will be over’: B.C. aims to move past third wave of COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s COVID-19 reopening plan to be announced on Tuesday'
B.C.’s COVID-19 reopening plan to be announced on Tuesday
Once British Columbians get through the May long weekend and the circuit breaker expires - what happens next? Keith Baldrey has the details on what the premier indicated today people would be "pleased" with. – May 20, 2021

The B.C. government is set to slowly ease ongoing COVID-19 restrictions next week, when the province is scheduled to release a reopening plan.

Premier John Horgan announced Thursday that the province’s “circuit-breaker” banning indoor dining and indoor group fitness activities will end on Tuesday, right after the May long weekend.

The current circuit breaker restrictions are set to expire at 12 a.m. Tuesday.

“They can expect on Tuesday that the circuit breaker will be over, and a road map will be laid out for all British Columbians to see,” Horgan said.

Click to play video: 'B.C. officials announce new ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions to curb  spread of COVID-19 transmission'
B.C. officials announce new ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions to curb spread of COVID-19 transmission

“This is great news for young people, who as (Dr. Bonnie Henry) has said, want to get on with their lives. It’s great news for entrepreneurs, it’s great news for workers, it’s great news for adults who want to get on with their lives.

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“This is what we have been working towards for the past number of weeks, and there will be an abundant amount of information on Tuesday. We look forward to talking to you about that then.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier says COVID-19 ‘circuit breaker’ will end next Tuesday'
B.C. premier says COVID-19 ‘circuit breaker’ will end next Tuesday

The province is now averaging 449 new COVID-19 cases per day, the lowest it has been since early February and well before the circuit breaker came into place. The number of people in hospital and intensive care with COVID also continues to drop.

But Henry was quick to point out that the province would not be “flipping a switch.” Instead, it will be a gradual re-opening. The province is also targeting a return to limited, in-person religious gatherings.

Read more: COVID-19 lockdown, shutdown, circuit breakers: How do these terms differ?

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Currently, 59 per cent of adult British Columbians have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Henry said in three to four weeks from now the “protection will be maximal for a much greater proportion of our population.”

“We cannot waste all of the sacrifices we have done in the last six weeks in this circuit breaker. Right now we have put in a number of additional measures and we need to follow things through this weekend. And we need to follow through into the next weeks. And then we will lay out the plan for what the future will hold, but it’s not going to be everything at once,” Henry said.

“We are seeing things go in the right direction. But we also know we have learned in the last 18 months that things can change quickly. And while we have talked about the future, nothing is going to be back to 100 per cent on Tuesday. It’s not going to be a light switch. It’s going to be a dimmer switch.”

Click to play video: 'Lifting restrictions in B.C. will depend on COVID-19 case numbers'
Lifting restrictions in B.C. will depend on COVID-19 case numbers

The current ban on social gatherings, travel and events remains in place until Tuesday. The re-opening plan is expected to lay out when in the summer British Columbians will be allowed to gather in larger numbers and when travel across the province will be encouraged.

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The restaurant sector has asked the province for a heads up if it can re-open, and although all signs are pointing towards a return to in-person dining, Horgan would not confirm the next step.

Horgan said the challenge is in managing the process in a fair way so all of the people that have been affected by the circuit breaker get information at the same time.

Read more: B.C.’s COVID-19 ‘Restart 2.0’ plan won’t come until after May long weekend

“The circuit breaker was going to be in effect until midnight on the Monday of the long weekend. Everyone knows that. Everyone heard that,” Horgan said.

“What we’d like to see over the weekend is people taking advantage of an opportunity to perhaps go to one of their favourite restaurants, get a take-out meal, stop in at the immunization centre, get vaccinated, enjoy the good weather and, on Tuesday, the roadmap will be laid out for all BCers to see.”

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