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

Corey Harkness, who is free on bail, is slated to make his first appearance in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on Dec. 14, 2020. A trial date has not yet been set. (COREY HARKNESS/FACEBOOK)
Accused in Cache Creek homicide will stand trial

Corey Harkness, 33, is charged with second-degree murder

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

The TNRD will no longer be offering free disposal days at its 29 solid waste facilities throughout the region. (Photo credit: TNRD)
TNRD votes to end free disposal days at solid waste facilities

Mattresses and tires on rims to be added to items that can be brought in at no charge year-round

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

Most Read