In one of the most impactful press conferences since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of BC announced a plan to mostly return to normal by September.

BC Premier John Horgan laid out a four-step plan this week for what he called “returning to normal life” – adding that these steps will not be all at once, but rather based on “where the science takes us.”

As of Tuesday, May 25, BC moves into step one of the plan – chief in all for this step, perhaps, is a return to in-person restaurant dining.

Step 1: May 25

* 60% of adult population with Dose 1

* COVID-19 cases stable, hospitalizations stable
* Maximum of five visitors or one household allowed for indoor personal gatherings

* Maximum of 10 people for outdoor personal gatherings

* Maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols

* Maximum of 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols

* Recreational travel only within travel region (travel restrictions extended)

* Indoor and outdoor dining for up to six people with safety protocols

* Resume outdoor sports (games) with no spectators, low-intensity fitness with safety protocols

* Start gradual return to workplaces

* Province-wide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place

* Return of indoor in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health

Step 2: Mid-June (June 15 – earliest date)

* 65% of adult population with Dose 1

* Cases declining, COVID-19 hospitalizations declining
* Maximum of 50 people for outdoor social gatherings

* Maximum of 50 people for seated indoor organized gatherings (banquet halls, movie theatres, live theatre) with safety protocols

* Consultation process to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings with safety protocols

* No B.C. travel restrictions – check local travel advisories

* Indoor sports (games) and high-intensity fitness with safety protocols

* Spectators for outdoor sports (50 maximum)

* Province-wide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place

Step 3: Early July (July 1 – earliest date)

* 70% of adult population with Dose 1

* Cases low, COVID-19 hospitalizations declining
* Provincial state of emergency and public health emergency lifted

* Returning to usual for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings

* Increased capacity for indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, with safety plans

* Nightclubs and casinos reopen with capacity limits and safety plans

* New public health and workplace guidance around personal protective equipment, physical distancing and business protocols

Step 4: Early September (Sept. 7 – earliest date)

* More than 70% of adult population with Dose 1

* Cases low and stable (contained clusters), COVID-19 hospitalizations low
* Returning to normal social contact

* Increased capacity at larger organized gatherings

* No limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports

* Businesses operating with new safety plans

“(As of today), it means you will be able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant with some friends,” explained Horgan. “It means you will be able to have more guests over to your home, or have a barbecue, tonight.”

Recreational travel is encouraged within your health region, though non-essential travel outside of your health region is still prohibited. Such rule is expected to be lifted on June 15, when BC will enter step two of the plan.

By July 1, the Government of BC is hoping to lift the indoor mandatory mask rule, though this certain situation remains fluid.

By early September, there is expected to be no limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports – this would mean that if the plan falls into place as predicted, fans will be in seats for the next BCHL season.

“We are able to begin this restart because of the sacrifice and dedication from so many people and businesses throughout B.C.,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “As we transition through the restart plan, we will continue to engage with businesses, industry and key stakeholders. I know that the entrepreneurial spirit of BC’s business community will again rise to the challenge as we work together to build a brighter and better future with meaningful jobs and a strong, sustainable economy for all.”

An almost teary-eyed Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry added, “This is an important day and one we have been waiting a long time for.”

More to come.