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B.C. moves to Step 2 of COVID-19 restart plan on June 15 — what will you be able to do?

Click to play video: 'B.C. moving to Step 2 of restart plan with loosening of COVID-19 restrictions' B.C. moving to Step 2 of restart plan with loosening of COVID-19 restrictions
Starting Tuesday, June 15, B.C. is moving to phase two of its restart plan. Vaccinations were key to the partial reopening and health officials say we're on track to safely and confidently move forward. Richard Zussman has details on what's changing and what we can expect next. – Jun 14, 2021

B.C. is moving to Step 2 of the province’s COVID-19 restart plan on June 15.

The criteria for moving to Step 2 is based on at least 65 per cent of the 18+ population being vaccinated with one dose, along with declining case counts and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: What can you do in Step 2 of B.C.’s restart plan?' COVID-19: What can you do in Step 2 of B.C.’s restart plan?
COVID-19: What can you do in Step 2 of B.C.’s restart plan? – Jun 14, 2021

As of Monday, more than 75 per cent of adults in B.C. are now vaccinated with their first dose.

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The other metrics for moving through the stages, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, continue to steadily decline.

“I am confident that we are on track to safely and confidently bridge to step 2 and am amending the relevant provincial health officer orders so we can do just that,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer said in a release. “The data shows us that with strong safety plans in place, and all of us continuing to use our layers of protection, we can now increase our much-needed social connections a little bit more. Whether it is travelling to visit family in B.C., having a small wedding or watching your child’s soccer game, these are the things we have all missed.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. tourism industry hoping for major rebound with reopening' B.C. tourism industry hoping for major rebound with reopening
B.C. tourism industry hoping for major rebound with reopening – Jun 14, 2021

On Friday, British Columbia reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death as hospitalization numbers continued their steady downward trend.

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The seven-day average for new cases remains at 161.

There were 162 people in hospital, less than one-third the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in B.C. at the peak of the pandemic’s third wave.

Read more: B.C. now has fewer COVID-19 patients in hospital than were in ICU alone at peak of 3rd wave

What changes on June 15?

Outdoor personal gatherings of up to 50 people (birthday parties, backyard BBQs, block parties) will now be permitted and children will be able to have playdates.

Organized gatherings indoors can now take place with up to 50 people with a COVID safety plan in place. This means movie theatres and live theatres will be able to open. Events will up to 50 people will also be permitted in restaurants.

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Indoor religious ceremonies can be 10 per cent of the building’s capacity or 50 people – whichever number is bigger.

When it comes to travel, provincial travel restrictions are lifted, meaning recreational travel within B.C. is allowed.

However, the out-of-province non-essential travel advisory continues.

BC Transit and BC Ferries will also be able to offer increased service as needed.

Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID Delta variant is ‘obviously a concern’' Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID Delta variant is ‘obviously a concern’
Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID Delta variant is ‘obviously a concern’ – Jun 14, 2021

Restaurants and bars can serve liquor until midnight.

Banquet halls can also operate with up to 50 people in attendance and a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

For those looking forward to exercising inside, high-intensity group exercise will be allowed with reduced capacity and indoor games and practices for both adults and youth teams will be allowed. However, no spectators allowed at any indoor sports activities but outdoor spectators up to 50 people will be permitted.

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Businesses and workplaces can also begin to bring people back to the workplace and small, in-person meetings will be allowed.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: What could cause B.C. to step back in restart plan?' COVID-19: What could cause B.C. to step back in restart plan?
COVID-19: What could cause B.C. to step back in restart plan? – Jun 14, 2021

Masks will continue to be a requirement in all indoor public settings, along with physical distancing and frequent washing and sanitizing of hands.

All other capacity limits and guidelines listed in Step 1 stay in place.

The earliest target start date for Step 3 is July 1, and for Step 4 is Sept. 7.

B.C.\’s COVID-19 restart plan, provided by the provincial government.

Read more: B.C. could nearly wipe out COVID-19 by September with 70% contact rate and high vaccine uptake: officials

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“Our step-by-step reopening plan is giving British Columbians what they have been waiting for,” Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport said in a release.

“The best way we can show our love for BC is to get out and eat, stay, shop and play. Whether it’s watching your kids play sports outside, going to the theatre or travelling to new and exciting destinations across the province, we can finally get out and support people, jobs and our economy.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: B.C. not yet open for visitors from other provinces' COVID-19: B.C. not yet open for visitors from other provinces
COVID-19: B.C. not yet open for visitors from other provinces – Jun 14, 2021
Provincial modelling presented last week shows British Columbia could nearly wipe out COVID-19 by September if vaccination uptake for second doses is high and personal interactions remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

According to the data presented by Henry, a 70 per cent interaction rate, combined with high vaccine uptake, would mean close to zero new cases a day by the beginning of that month.

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In comparison, with lower vaccine uptake and an 80 per cent interaction rate, B.C. would likely record 200 new COVID-19 cases a day at the beginning of September.

Summer travel plans

The restart comes just in time for B.C.’s hard-hit tourism-related business that are still hoping to salvage the summer season.

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While visitors from the rest of Canada and other countries still won’t be returning for at least a few more weeks the relaxation of travel restrictions within B.C. is expected to quickly lead to more booked hotel rooms, campsites and cabin rentals.

The B.C. government is also now encouraging people to “think big” when planning their B.C.-based summer vacation.

Click to play video: 'B.C. tourism industry hoping for major rebound with reopening' B.C. tourism industry hoping for major rebound with reopening
B.C. tourism industry hoping for major rebound with reopening – Jun 14, 2021

“We’ve all felt, obviously, we haven’t been able to do that since last summer and even last summer, we were all quite cautious,” Maya Lange with Destination BC told Global News Monday.

“So I think there really is this pent-up demand and a lot of excitement to get out and explore B.C., which is just fantastic news for the tourism businesses who have really seen a significant drop in revenue over these past 15 months.”

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-with files from Richard Zussman and Simon Little

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