Since Mid-March, British Columbians have played a vital role in helping to flatten the curve and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Today, the B.C. government outlined the first in a series of steps we will take together to protect people, re-open businesses and ensure our province comes back from COVID-19 stronger than before. The BC Restart Plan is a comprehensive, multi-phase blueprint to achieve this goal while accounting for “The New Normal.”
The New Normal
While we progress toward reopening our provincial economy, it is done so in the knowledge COVID-19 remains with us and will present an on-going challenge. To continue to protect seniors and at risk people and ensure that our health care system can respond to this dangerous virus, means that we all have to keep doing our part – at home, in the community and at work. Steps we will all have to continue taking for the next 12-18 months include:
- Stay at home and keep a safe distance from family when you have cold or flu symptoms, including:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- No handshaking or hugs outside of your family
- Practice good hygiene, including:
- Regular hand washing
- Avoiding touching your face
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Keep physical distancing, as much as possible when in the community and where not possible, consider using a non-medical mask or face covering
And in personal settings when you’re seeing friends and family who don’t live with you:
- Only get together in small groups of around 2 to 6 people and keep a physical distance
- Stay home and away from others if you have cold or flu symptoms
If you are at greater risk (over the age of 60 or with underlying medical conditions), be informed of your risk, think through your risk tolerance and take extra precautions.
A Careful Restart
British Columbia’s restart will be a careful, multi-phase process that ensures the gains we have made so far are not squandered. Different industries will be asked to develop enhanced protocols aligned with the Public Health and Safety Guidelines and WorkSafeBC.
In certain instances, this will require a lifting or modifying of existing orders by the Provincial Health Officer before certain businesses re-open. Businesses and organizations not covered by a Provincial Health Order may re-open or continue to operate but they will be expected to adopt and implement sector safety plans when they are finalized. Below, are the four phases of British Columbia’s Restart Plan. The success of each phase is dependent on our continued observance of the steps laid out above.
Phase 1 (Our Current Phase)
Essential Services Operating During COVID-19
- Essential health and health services
- Law enforcement, public safety, first responders and emergency response personnel
- Vulnerable population service providers
- Critical infrastructure
- Food and agriculture service providers
- Industry and manufacturing
- Communications and information technology
- Financial institutions
- Other non-health essential service providers
To help these businesses and other organizations get back on their feet, industries need to incorporate workplace practices that ensure British Columbians feel safe, whether they are returning to work, or visiting as a customer.
Phase 2 (Mid-May Onwards)
Under enhanced protocols:
- Restoration of health services
- Re-scheduling elective surgery
- Medically related services:
- Dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy, and chiropractors
- Physical therapy, speech therapy, and similar services
- Retail sector
- Hair salons, barbers, and other personal service establishments
- In-person counselling
- Restaurants, cafes, and pubs (with sufficient distancing measures)
- Museums, art galleries, and libraries
- Office-based worksites
- Recreation and sports
- Parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces
- Child care
Phase 3 (June to September)
If transmission rates remain low or in decline, under enhanced protocols:
- Hotels and Resorts (June 2020)
- Parks – broader reopening, including some overnight camping (June 2020)
- Film industry – beginning with domestic productions (June/July 2020)
- Select entertainment – movies and symphony, but not large concerts (July 2020)
- Post-secondary education – with mix of online and in-class (September 2020)
- K-12 education – with only a partial return this school year (September 2020)
Phase 4 (To be Determined)
Conditional on at lease one of the following; wide vaccination, “community” immunity, broad successful treatments:
- Activities requiring large gatherings, such as:
- Live audience professional sports
- International tourism
The timing of a safe restart of night clubs, casinos and bars is a more complicated consideration. As with other sectors, industry associations will be expected to develop safe operations plans, for review, that are in keeping with Public Health and Safety Guidelines, as well as WorkSafeBC.
Resources to assist businesses and sectors as they restart their activities including new Health Guidelines and Checklists are available from WorkSafeBC.
“Our plan puts safety first. British Columbians have made enormous sacrifices so far, and it’s thanks to them that we’re able to begin to lift some restrictions,” said Premier John Horgan.
“We’ll allow activities to resume as the evidence and experts tell us it is appropriate to do so. By moving carefully and deliberately, we will help British Columbians get to a new normal, where more of our social and economic life can resume.
“We need to be vigilant, to make sure we keep flattening the curve of transmission. There is much more to do. But we will get through this pandemic to better days by working together and keeping each other safe.”
Speak to an Advisor
Unsure of how your business fits into BC’s Restart Plan? Got other COVID-19 business-related questions? The BC Business COVID Support Service has the answers you need. Advisors are available by email, phone (1-833-254-4357) or live chat, alongside a knowledge centre with COVID-19 resources updated daily.