B.C. moves to Step 2 of its restart plan

Recreational travel within the province, larger social gatherings, increased sports activity among changes as province moves into Step 2 of its restart plan. But some restrictions remain

B.C. will move to the second step of its restart plan on Tuesday, allowing more social gatherings, travel and sports activities.

The change means that people in B.C. will once again be able to gather in larger (but still limited) groups, travel recreationally within the province and resume group exercise among other smaller changes.

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"The data shows us that we're in a good position right now," said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Henry warned, however, that some things will remain. Physical distancing and mask use indoors are here to stay, for now, and anyone who feels sick should stay at home and get tested fo COVID-19.

B.C. set its Step 2 date based on three factors, including a date (June 15 or later), declining case counts and a first-dose vaccination rate of at least 65 per cent.

Cases in the province have been steeply and steadily declining since mid April, when the province was seeing more than 1,000 new cases per day. More recently, daily case rates have been between 130 and 200 and continue to decline.

A number of health orders have been amended as the province heads into Step 2.

The province distinguishes between personal and organized gatherings, but both are now allowed with up to 50 people.

Personal gatherings, such as birthday parties, backyard barbecues and block parties, are now allowed with up to 50 people. Indoor personal gatherings, however, remain restricted. No more than five people (or one other household) should meet indoors.

Organized seated indoor gatherings, such as weddings and other events, are now allowed up to 50 people. This change also allows places like live theatres, movie theatres and banquet halls to resume operations.

Additionally, places of worship can now accommodate up to 50 people or 10 per cent of total capacity (whichever is greater) inside.

Organized outdoor gatherings remain limited to 50 people, but the restriction that participants must be seated has been lifted.

In sports, high and low intensity indoor group exercise can now resume, along with indoor and outdoor games and practices for adult and youth sports teams. Outdoor events can have up to 50 spectators, but none for indoor events yet.

Food and liquor establishments also have a little more freedom. While groups will still be restricted to six people, they will not be restricted to a single "bubble" or household and liquor will be served until midnight.

Masks will remain mandatory for public indoor spaces.

Dr. Henry also said workplaces will soon be able to transition to a more generic communicable disease safety plan, rather than a specific COVID-19 safety plan. She said more details will be made available prior to July 1, which is the province's earliest entry date into Step 3.

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