People walk, sit on benches, bike, fly kites along the seawall in English Bay in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

People walk, sit on benches, bike, fly kites along the seawall in English Bay in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

British Columbians can double their ‘pandemic bubble’ mid-May, but no large gatherings

Physical distancing must remain for those outside the newly expanded bubbles

British Columbians who have remained isolated for months can begin to slightly broaden their social circles as of mid-May.

On Wednesday, B.C. officials unveiled their “Go-Forward Strategy,” which included a decrease in measures that have stifled social lives, the economy – and hopefully, the virus – since implementation in March.

British Columbians will be allowed to mingle with groups of around two to six people outside of their own household.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that as long as COVID-19 cases continue to decrease, people can “double their bubble,” officials said, and hug people within that small group of approximately a half-dozen people.

Those who are sick must continue to self-isolate, and people at higher risk due to age or pre-existing conditions, must decide for themselves if they wish to broaden their “pandemic bubble” in coming weeks.

“People have to make those choice. If your mom has a compromised immune system, it’s best to keep that distance,” Premier John Horgan said at a press conference two months after he first declared a state of emergency in B.C.

However, health officials said that physical distancing measures must continue for people outside of a new bubble, even as people can begin to hang out with neighbours and others. The province is trying to keep interactions to about 60 per cent of pre-COVID times.

As the weather gets warmer, British Columbians will have more access to the outdoors as of the middle of May. Provincial parks will reopen most day-use facilities as May 14, as could any municipally operated parks, beaches and outdoor spaces that are currently closed. Overnight camping and the rest of the day-use facilities could return in June, while movie theatres and symphonies are scheduled to open up in July.

Recreation and sports opportunities can restart, officials said, although low-contact sports are preferable.

READ MORE: B.C. prepares to restart more retail, services, offices in May

Nevertheless, many aspects of pre-COVID life will not return for some time.

Restrictions on gatherings of 50 or more people including concerts, conventions and sporting events with a live audience “are here to stay,” Horgan said.

“Small social gatherings with physical distancing will be allowed.”

International travel will continue to be restricted to essential crossings only, and the 14-day quarantine requirement will remain in force until

“When we see evidence that the curve is flattened… that cases in other jurisdictions are reduced to a place we’re comfortable with, we’ll start to look at opening the borders in the months ahead,” Horgan sad.

Non-essential to other places in B.C., and even throughout Canada, could be a possibility later into the summer, he noted. Face masks are currently required on flights in Canada

“The market will decide some of this. If there are no flights, there’s not going to be a lot of people getting on planes,” Horgan said.

“These are personal choice people are going to have to make.”

As of Wednesday, B.C. has had 2,255 total test positive cases and 124 deaths due to COVID-19. A total of 1,494 people have now recovered.

READ MORE: B.C. records three new COVID-19 deaths as officials get ready to unveil reopening plan


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni write anti-bullying messages and draw colourful chalk art around their school for national anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY LISA ARBANAS)
Chalk art brightens public walkway on Pink Shirt Day

Students from AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni write messages of hope

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
Nuu-chah-nulth cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar centre

An endangered Vancouver Island marmot suns itself on rocks at Mount Washington, near the Comox Valley. Learn more about this endangered species with the Alberni Valley Nature Club. (PHOTO COURTESY SANDY MCRUER, AV NATURE CLUB)
Marmots, underwater mysteries part of Alberni Valley Nature Club lineup

Club kicks off membership drive with series of Zoom chats

The current exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre. The art gallery has COVID-19 protective measures in place. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre puts out a call to artists

Port Alberni’s Community Arts Council will hold a pandemic-inspired art exhibit

Staff and students at Shelter Farm work in a greenhouse during the last growing season. The farm has wrapped up for winter and is setting its sights on expansion of programs for spring. (PHOTO COURTESY GUY LANGLOIS, SHELTER FARM)
Port Alberni Shelter Farm grows with the seasons

Food production, processing the next step

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Island communities asked to join forces in seeking help fighting illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Protesters gather at Victoria courthouse to oppose Port Renfrew logging

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

Most Read