British Columbia health officials have announced B.C. will be dropping restrictions for indoor and outdoor gatherings while keeping the B.C. vaccine card in place.
Bars and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen and events can operate at 100 per cent capacity.
Dancing will be allowed at organized gatherings and mingling can resume at restaurants.
The change is expected to formally come into place at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night.
“By following public health orders and advice we can do just about anything. These measures that have been in place to deal with the Omicron wave have been challenging for many,” Premier John Horgan said.
The province will not be making any changes to the B.C. vaccine card program and masks will be required at organized events and gatherings.
The vaccine card will be reviewed in March and then potentially again in April before a decision is made on how long it will last. The proof of COVID vaccination program is currently scheduled until the end of June.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix will be outlining B.C.’s plan.
Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Dix said the vaccine card has been successful and continues to be a necessary tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“The B.C. vaccine card is a key piece of keeping people safe. That is the approach we have taken in British Columbia based on the evidence we see in B.C. and the effectiveness of that,” Dix said.
“It has been a hugely useful tool and continues to be a useful tool. You are always reflecting because you want to put in the least restrictive actions possible to ensure the maximum is done while protecting people. The B.C. vaccine card has been an integral part of it.”
Other provinces, including Ontario and Alberta, have committed to getting rid of proof of vaccine requirements for discretionary events like gyms, restaurants and sporting events.
Protests continue in Ottawa and other parts of the country against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, including at the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C.
The vaccine card is supported by many industries in British Columbia, including the hospitality sector.
“We actually support that. We believe we need to move with our guests and do the transition slower,” BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson said.
The wedding sector is also anxious for the province to make changes.
Wedding and funeral receptions have not been allowed in B.C. under the current restrictions. This has had an impact on a wide range of businesses, from rental companies to florists to hotels.
“We are not asking for a miracle, we are not asking for a raging party with 300 people dancing,” A Day to Remember Events owner Candice Jones said.
“It is going to take years just to recover from two years ago. We have mouths to feed. In B.C. alone this is a $1.2 billion industry.”
Watch the full Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, briefing here: