British Columbia is poised to drop the requirement to wear masks in public, indoor spaces.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, health minister Adrian Dix, Premier John Horgan and economic recovery minister Ravi Kahlon will make the announcement at 2:15 p.m.
The press conference will be carried live on BC1 and here on the Global BC website.
B.C. COVID modelling data points to go-ahead of phase 3 of reopening
Global News has also learned outdoor events will be able to have up to 5,000 people and indoor events can have up to 50 per cent capacity.
The minimum is 50 people. So any venue with a capacity up to 50 can have full capacity.
It is still unclear what this will mean for BC Lions games and other major indoor events planned before the province is set for Step 4 on Sept. 7.
B.C. reports 145 new COVID-19 cases over three days as active cases dip below 1,000
Starting on July 1, masks will be recommended, but not mandated, in public indoor spaces.
The change is just part of the province’s move to Step 3 on Thursday.
“We now have a sustained low reproductive rate. That means that for most people who are infected, they are not passing this virus on to anybody else,” Henry said on Monday.
“That’s how the pandemic will fizzle out over time, as long as we continue to not have infectious contacts, to do the things that we need to do to prevent transmission.”
B.C. still seeing “breakthrough cases”, people who contract COVID-19 after being vaccinated
The removal of the mask mandate will be met with some resistance. Many retailers and restaurants will continue to encourage staff and customers to wear masks indoors.
Henry says at this point, the risk in the community is changing dramatically, and particularly for people who are immunized.
The province is of the opinion is it is important to take away orders as soon as possible.
“(Removing the mask mandate) is, in many ways, an incentive for people who have been immunized, have received two doses of vaccine, that masks are no longer that last line of defence that you need because your risk has changed so much,” Henry said.
“So we are moving from a period where orders were required because we had a lot of transmission in our community and every single layer of protection was incredibly important. Now, as we have protection through immunization and decreasing transmission rates, it is really important for us to give that agency back to people.”
A move to Step 3 also includes:
- all sectors must follow communicable disease prevention guidance from WorkSafeBC, and drop COVID-19 safety plans
- personal gatherings will return to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings
- sleepovers are now allowed
- increased capacity at both indoor and outdoor organized gatherings when following communicable disease prevention guidance — details on capacity limits are expected as early as Tuesday
- fairs and festivals can operate when following communicable disease prevention guidance
- Canada-wide recreational travel will be encouraged
- no group limit for indoor and outdoor dining
- liquor service restrictions lifted
- casinos and nightclubs can operate with a limited capacity
- all indoor fitness classes allowed, usual capacity
- limited indoor spectators allowed
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