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

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

(Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for man who tried to grab boy near Robertson elementary school

A man in a parked minivan reached out the driver side window as a young boy passed by

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Dean Werk, president of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, at the Fraser River boat launch at Island 22 Regional Park in Chilliwack on Dec. 1, 2019. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Salmon society calls for moratorium on vehicle access to gravel bars near Chilliwack

Gill Road and Jesperson Road gravel bars have seen increased use and environmental abuse

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

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

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

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Emergency crews are on scene at Walnut Grove Secondary School after a report of a bomb threat at Walnut Grove Secondary School on March 3, 2021. The school was safely evacuated. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: Bomb threat forces evacuation of Langley high school

Police asked the public to avoid 88th Avenue and Walnut Grove Drive

Most Read