British Columbia set to roll out COVID-19 re-opening plan on Tuesday

WATCH FULL ANNOUNCEMENT: British Columbia officials on Tuesday unveiled a four-step plan to ease pandemic restrictions, with indoor restaurant dining and small social gatherings back on right away.

The tourism, arts and culture and sports sectors are all hoping for the same thing from B.C.’s COVID-19 re-opening plan – clarity.

The B.C. government is scheduled on Tuesday to release the much-anticipated details of the plan which is expected to outline when British Columbia can start holding events or attending indoor social gatherings.

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COVID-19: Cautious optimism ahead of B.C.’s restart plan announcement

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Premier John Horgan, Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon and Health Minister Adrian Dix are set to announce the details at 1 p.m. Global BC will carry the press conference live here, on the Global BC Facebook page and on BC1.

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The plan is expected to include details on when people will be encouraged to travel within their communities and around the province.

Charles Horn from Pedaler Cycling Tours in Victoria says Victoria Day long weekend often marks the start of the peak summer season. He says the pandemic has meant an 80 per cent drop in business due to a closure of the US/Canada board and a lack of domestic travellers.

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B.C. sectors anticipating when the circuit breaker measures will be eased

“What I am really hoping for is some clarity over what can happen in the next 60 to 90 days so people can book. If they can’t plan, they don’t book and that means they don’t come,” Horn said.

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“What I need to be able to see is people can plan ahead. They can say maybe I can’t come this week but I know when I can come. It doesn’t all have to happen at once, but if people can have some clarity then we are back on track.”

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Ontario and Saskatchewan have outlined re-opening plans including benchmarks based on vaccination.

Henry has mentioned British Columbia’s plan is going to look not just at vaccination levels but also at hospital pressure and current COVID case numbers.

So far 2,738,244 adult British Columbians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, about 65 per cent of the adult population. The province hopes to get past 80 per cent by mid-June.

Click to play video: 'Focus BC: Q & A with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry'
Focus BC: Q & A with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry

The province is expected to re-open in-person restaurant dining on Tuesday but most of the other restrictions will be eased over time.

Rickshaw Theatre owner Mo Tarmohamed says he has not been able to hold a concert in more than 14 months and cannot operate with anything below 75 per cent capacity. He is hoping the province will outline a plan for when people can attend concerts without social distancing guidelines in place.

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“I have lots of shows on the books now for October, November but I can’t pull the trigger until we know for certainty and the longer we wait, this is about the deadline, I have to know by now or those shows will go away,” Tarmohamed said.

“It has to be at least 75 to 100 per cent capacity. Anything below that is not worth doing. What I am expecting is we will get a measured approach to this. Fifty person capacity does nothing for me, I can’t open with that.”

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Pressure mounting on province to explain how B.C. economy will open in post-pandemic world

Adult and youth recreational sports are hoping to hear good news on Tuesday. They have not been allowed to play games since November.

Urban Rec founder Chris McNally says they average about 10,000 adults a year participating in rec sports leagues in the province.

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“I really think it is about clear guidelines and clear timelines we can plan around. We have been waiting to go and for us, we could press a button and be ready to go in 24 hours. We have hired staff for the spring season,” McNally said.

“All we want to do is do it right and do it as quick as we can.”

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