June 29, 2021

Dear ABLE BC members and industry colleagues,

We are starting off the week with some good news! This afternoon, Premier Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry confirmed BC will officially start Stage 3 of the Restart Plan on Thursday, July 1. 

The transition into Step 3 of the four-step restart plan aligns with key metrics for moving forward. More than 78% of adults are vaccinated with their first dose, exceeding the target Step 3 minimum threshold of 70%. The other metrics for moving through the stages – COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations – continue to steadily decline. 

Moving from Step 2 to Step 3 on July 1 includes: 

  • Provincial state of emergency will be removed
  • Masks are recommended, not required, in public indoor settings
  • Return to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings
  • Increased capacity at both indoor and outdoor organized gatherings when following communicable disease prevention guidance
  • Maximum capacity for indoor organized gatherings of 50 people or up to 50% of a venue’s total capacity (whichever is greater)
  • Maximum capacity for outdoor organized gatherings of 5000 people or up to 50% of a venue’s total capacity (whichever is greater)
  • No capacity limits on fairs, festivals, or trade shows when following communicable disease prevention guidance
  • Canada-wide recreational travel
  • No group limit for indoor and outdoor dining, but socializing between tables remains prohibited
  • Liquor service hours restrictions lifted, meaning you may return to the service hours listed on your license
  • Nightclubs may reopen with restrictions:
    • Customers are restricted to groups of 10 and must remain seated
    • Tables must remain two metres apart; no socializing between tables
    • No dancing (dance floors must be closed)
  • Casinos may operate with a reduced capacity and 50% of gaming stations open
  • COVID-19 Safety Plans are no longer required, but to operate businesses and workplaces must follow communicable disease prevention guidance(more details below)
  • Seminars and bigger meetings allowed in workplaces
  • All indoor fitness classes allowed, usual capacity
  • Limited indoor spectators allowed at sporting events
  • No longer required to screen workers (daily healthy check) but employers need to ensure workers and patrons stay home if they are sick or come into contact with someone who has COVID-19

Physical barriers will not be required in Step 3, but Dr. Henry said they will continue to encourage barriers remain in place, particularly those that protect the workers. Visit this WorkSafeBC page for more information on suggested protocols in step 3.

The earliest target start date for Step 4 is September 7. View the full Restart Plan here.

Wearing masks in indoor public settings

The mandatory indoor mask mandate will be removed in Step 3 and replaced with public health guidance recommending masks in indoor public spaces for individuals over the age of 12 and not fully immunized.

Wearing your mask indoors will be done based on the honour system. For instance, it is not your responsibility to ask someone for proof they are fully immunized.

That being said, it is important to have conversations with your staff and gauge their comfort level on wearing or not wearing masks in the workplace. Operators will also have to be mindful that customers will have different comfort levels with mask use. This is something you will to take into account for your business.

Updated Public Orders

As BC moves into Step 3 of the Restart Plan, the public orders for Food and Liquor Serving Premises and Gatherings and Events will also be updated. We will circulate copies of the orders once they become available.

Communicable Disease Prevention: A guide for employers

Beginning with Step 3 (July 1), employers will no longer be required to maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and will instead transition to communicable disease prevention.

Download this new resource from WorkSafeBC.

This guide provides information for employers to develop a communicable disease plan. An effective plan includes general measures to reduce the risk of communicable disease and additional measures for when there’s an elevated risk of communicable disease. It is not meant for employers who have an existing exposure control plan related to communicable disease, such as health care employers.

Please click here for full WorkSafeBC guidance as we move into Step 3.

Webinar: Step 3 Restart Plan Questions Answered

Join go2HR for a webinar on July 5, 2021 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm PT: Workplace Safety in Step 3 – What You Need to Know. Register here

The webinar features expert panelists Mark Lysyshyn, Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer at Vancouver Coastal Health and Lisa Houle, Manager, OHS Consultation and Education Services at WorkSafeBC. Learn how to implement a robust communicable disease program for step 3 of the BC Restart and get your questions answered. 

Webinar topics include:

  • How to build an effective communicable disease program for step 3 of the BC Restart
  • How to relax existing controls for workers and customers
  • When you can (or should) enforce the wearing of masks and other controls in the workplace
  • Key considerations around occupancy levels, including for events and meetings
  • The practicalities of a gradual transition out of your COVID-19 safety plan and how to communicate changes to workers and customers
  • The forecast: fall flu season and the potential impacts of variants of concern

Register today for this informative industry event! Participants will have an opportunity to pre-submit a question for expert advice.

COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

Requesting proof of vaccination from customers

Can a business lawfully request proof of vaccination from customers and, if so, can you refuse service to those who do not confirm that they have been vaccinated. ABLE BC Associate Member and Employment Lawyer Ryan Anderson and his firm (Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke LLPoffer some guidance.

Requesting proof of vaccination from employees 

With almost 80 per cent of eligible British Columbians having had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, we know employers are wondering whether they can mandate that their employees take the vaccine. Ryan Anderson offers some guidance.

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