Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

British Columbia will move toward a return to normal life on Canada Day as the province removes most COVID-19 restrictions and allows outdoor gatherings of up to 5,000 people.

Premier John Horgan said high vaccination rates and a low number of cases and deaths compared with other jurisdictions including Ontario and Quebec mean the province has achieved “extraordinary results” through its public health response and the efforts of residents who followed protocols.

“I am so proud, so proud to be a British Columbian based on how all of us have responded over the past 16 months,” Horgan said Tuesday at the final regular government update on COVID-19 was held since they began in January 2020.

Story continues below advertisement

Horgan said B.C. recorded 29 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

As of Thursday, restaurants and pubs will no longer have limits on the number of diners, but people will still not be allowed to mingle with those at other tables, masks will no longer be mandatory and recreational travel outside the province can resume.

“We welcome Canadians back to B.C., provided you’ve had those two vaccinations, provided that you check before you arrive to make sure that there aren’t local restrictions in place, to ensure that Indigenous communities have a clear understanding about how many people are coming to their territory and what the consequences will be,” Horgan said.

Casinos and nightclubs will open this week for the first time in 16 months, but some barriers will be in place and socializing between tables will not be allowed.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said some businesses may want people to continue wearing masks for now, and everyone should comply with those requirements or face the potential of fines. Overall, the transition among individuals and businesses will depend on their level of comfort, she said.

“Not everybody’s ready for a handshake right now. We’ve never been through something like this before, as a collective, as a society, so we need to be patient. It may be fist bumps and elbow bumps for a while yet for many people.”

All COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be removed on Labour Day. Henry said public health officials will continue monitoring any clusters of COVID-19 as part of their usual surveillance of communicable diseases like the flu and keep the public informed about transmission of the virus.

Story continues below advertisement

“I don’t expect it’s going to spread widely because so many people have been immunized, but it will likely affect businesses or a school or a long-term care home or a certain community, and we need to be able to manage that. And that may mean going back to certain things like staying home for a period of time or wearing masks in certain situations come the fall.”

A total of 77 per cent of B.C. residents aged 12 and over have received their first dose of a vaccine and nearly 30 per cent of people in that group have been fully vaccinated, Henry said.

While a study commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada suggests deaths from COVID-19 in Canada could be twice as high as reported, Henry said it doesn’t apply to B.C. and should be taken “with a grain of salt.”

“We have an ongoing surveillance system where we do look at total deaths and deaths by cause here in British Columbia, and we’ve presented that a number of times, and very early on in the pandemic,” she said.

The arrangement with the coroners service has meant any sudden deaths were tested for COVID-19, she added.

“I don’t agree with what that report has come up with and I think there are variations, that they have made assumptions with what happened in Ontario, for example, and what happened here.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies