BC is finally starting to see progress in moving past the COVID19 pandemic. Daily cases are decreasing, hospitalizations are decreasing, and rate of vaccination is increasing. With that, workplaces are beginning to consider the return to normal. The starting point for that is understanding BC’s Restart Plan and finding a way to apply that Plan to your workplace. Moving through each step in the Restart Plan is dependent on continued declines in case counts and continued increases in vaccinations. Assuming the trend continues, workplaces will be back to normal by September 7. The steps in the Plan are as follows:
Beginning May 25, 2021 the “circuit breaker” measures expired and British Columbians began a gradual return to the workplace.
- Step 1, employers are required to continue to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and daily health check in place. Indoor dining is reopened with groups of up to six people. Personal gatherings are now allowed of up to ten people outdoors and five people indoors. Seated organized gatherings are allowed of up to 50 people outdoors and ten people indoors, but a COVID-19 Safety Plan is required. Recreational travel within travel regions is permitted. Indoor low intensity group exercises resumes as well as outdoor games and practices.
- Step 2 will begin as early as June 15. The criteria for moving to this step is that at least 65% of the population over the age of 18 is vaccinated with their first dose, along with declining case counts and COVID-19 hospitalizations. Physical distancing and masks continue to be required in indoor public settings. Continued return to the workplace with the addition of small in person meetings being allowed. Outdoor personal gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed and capacity for organized seated indoor gatherings is increased to 50 people with a COVID-19 Safety plan. Provincial travel restrictions will be lifted with recreational travel within BC now allowed. Banquet halls will be reopened with limited capacity and a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Liquor can now be served until midnight.
- Step 3 will begin as early as July 1. Criteria for moving to Step 3 is vaccination of at least 70% of the population over the age of 18 with low case counts and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations. The requirement for mask wearing will be lifted with a recommendation for ongoing mask use in public indoor settings. This step will see a continued return to the workplace with seminars and bigger meetings now allowed. All workplaces will be required to operate based on a new sector COVID-19 Safety Plan. No group limit for indoor or outdoor dining and liquor service restrictions will be lifted. Bingo halls, casinos and nightclubs can now operate with a limited capacity. For personal gatherings it will be a return to usual for both indoor and outdoor gatherings. For organized gatherings capacity will be increased with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. Fairs and festivals can return to operation with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. All indoor fitness classes will be allowed at usual capacity with limitations on spectators.
- Step 4 will begin as early as September 7 and depends on more than 70% of the population of 18 and overs vaccinated with dose 1 along with low case counts and low COVID-19 hospitalizations. Mask wearing will now be a personal choice. Workplaces will be fully reopened and businesses will continue to operate based on the new COVID-19 safety guidelines and updated Safety Plans. Return to normal personal gatherings and social contact with increased capacity at large organized gatherings. Spectators will be increased at sports activities.
As of June 1, 70.4% of adults in British Columbia had received their first dose of vaccine and 67% of those aged 12 and over had received theirs. This vaccination rate puts BC on track to proceed through the steps in the Restart Plan, dependent on continued low case counts and low COVID-19 hospitalizations. As of June 1, there were 254 hospitalized and 2,800 active cases in BC. Now is the time to start planning for the return to normal operations that we should see in the next couple of months.
This update was authored by Rose Keith. Have questions regarding covid-19 in the workplace and how to deal with reintegration? Contact Rose at email@example.com or anyone else listed on the authors page.