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Health & Safety

Updated:
February 24, 2021

As part of B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization strategy, the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations begin the week of December 14, 2020. The two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada are safe, effective and will save lives. They are the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. The vaccines are free for all British Columbians. Below is a timeline for the various priority groups and the general population. Public health will arrange for the following priority groups to get the vaccine. No action is required on your part. 

First priority groups

  • Long-term care residents and staff
  • Health-care facility staff for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, COVID-19 wards and emergency departments
  • Indigenous people living in rural or remote communities
  • High risk people living in group settings like shelters
  • People over 80 years old

Second priority groups

In spring and summer of 2021 as more vaccine becomes available, a second phase of vaccination will begin for:

  • Older people under age 80 in descending five-year-age groups, with a focus on the oldest people first
  • Key frontline workers including:
    • All other healthcare workers
    • Police
    • Fire and first responders
    • People working in grocery stores
    • People working in K to 12 education settings and child care providers
    • People working in transportation
    • People working in manufacturing and production facilities

General population timeline

Following all priority groups, all others in BC can get the vaccine as it becomes available, if the vaccine is recommended for them.

Everyone the vaccine is recommended for in B.C. will have the opportunity to get the vaccine by the end of 2021. We estimate that we could reach herd immunity once 60 to 70% of the population is vaccinated. This would reduce transmission rapidly.

For more information, see the Government of BC COVID-19 Vaccines page, and BCCDC’s Plan for Vaccine Distribution in BC.

 

Updated:
February 24, 2021

On Thursday November 19, 2020, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) instructed all individuals, places of work and businesses in BC to significantly reduce their level of social interactions and travel. The order is in effect from November 19, 2020 at midnight until further notice. The order was extended on February 5, 2021.

Masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces. People who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt. Employers are expected to enforce the mandatory mask policy with both employees and customers, and a customer can be refused entry or service if they do not wear a mask

The new restrictions are as follows:

 

  • No social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your household or core bubble. This means no in-home or outdoor gatherings and playdates.
  • All events and community-based gatherings as defined in the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF) are suspended. 
  • Funerals, weddings and baptisms may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 10 people attend, including the officiant.
  • Party-buses and group limousines can not operate in any region.
  • In-person religious gatherings and worship services are suspended under the order.
  • Employers must make every effort to provide work from home options.  
  • At this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of BC and between regions of the province.
  • Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate high risk indoor group physical activities must suspend the following activities: spin classes, hot yoga and high intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • Adult indoor and team sports are not allowed.

The order does not impact restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars can continue to operate as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and employee protocols in place. You should only visit a restaurant with people in your household or core bubble. A maximum of six people are allowed at a table. 

Under the Government’s Emergency Program Act, some orders can be enforced by police or other compliance and enforcement officials. People who don't follow these orders could be fined.


For more information, see the full province-wide restrictions HERE. Also see the February 10 order on Gathering and Events.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

Masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces. People who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt. 

  • Employers are expected to enforce the mandatory mask policy with both employees and customers
  • A customer can be refused entry or service if they do not wear a mask

Masks are required in all indoor public places and all retail stores. This includes:

  • Malls, shopping centres
  • Grocery stores
  • Coffee shops
  • Common areas in hotels
  • Libraries
  • Clothing stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Drug stores
  • Community centres
  • Recreation centres
  • City Halls
  • Restaurants and bars when not seated at a table

Masks are required in all workplaces for shared work areas and areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained. This includes:

  • Elevators
  • Kitchens
  • Hallways
  • Customer counters
  • Break rooms

You are subject to a $230 fine if you:

  • Do not wear a mask in an indoor public setting, unless you are exempt
  • Refuse to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space
  • Engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour

For more information, see the order on province-wide restrictions in effect from November 19, 2020 at midnight
until further notice.

 

Updated:
February 24, 2021

According to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), if you are under a Boil Water or Do Not Consume Advisory, it is still safe to wash your hands with soap and water.

See the FNHA COVID-19 website for more information on staying healthy during the health crisis. However, if you are living with a Do Not Use (DNU) advisory you should wash with bottled water. For specific water advisories and more information see HERE.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to keep kids cooped up indoors, Global News reports that “there’s been a rise in the online sexual exploitation of Canadian children,” according to a national tipline. Cybertip.ca says it saw a 66 percent spike in reports in April compared to the three previous months. The tipline processes reports from the public about potentially illegal material, including child pornography or online luring, and aims to act as a “triage” for law enforcement and child welfare. Moreover, there’s a new type of predator to worry about and they call themselves “cappers.” They trick children into committing illicit acts over livestream while secretly recording a video, which they then use to blackmail the child.

Parents can go to Cybertips.ca for their guide on Keeping Kids Safe Online While Out of School which includes advice on what parents should be aware of and what parents can do to keep their children safe online. The Government of Canada also has resources to protect your entire family online.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

If you are interested to support the response to Coronavirus COVID-19, there are many ways you can help. Information below is provided by the Government of Canada. It lists concrete, meaningful ways to contribute and make a real difference in the lives of fellow Canadians.

FluWatchers

FluWatchers is an online surveillance system that normally helps track the spread of flu-like illness across Canada. We are using its established network of volunteers to track COVID-19 Coronavirus. You can participate by anonymously answering 2 quick health-related questions each week to help show Canadians where COVID-19 is circulating.

Sign up to be a FluWatcher

Download Canada COVID-19 App

The app will support you to track your symptoms, receive the latest updates, and access trusted resources. 

Download the application

Supplies to help Canada respond

Can your business supply products and services to help Canada's response to COVID-19 Coronavirus? We want to hear from you.

Supply a needed product or service

Volunteer for the Safe Seniors, Strong Communities Program

Safe Seniors, Strong Communities Program is a provincial initiative to help seniors stay safe while ensuring their basic needs are met. The program matches seniors who need support with non-medical essentials, to volunteers in their community who are willing to help. When you register as a volunteer, your contact information is shared with the United Way's Better at Home agencies. Those agencies make the connections between seniors and volunteers in the community.

Sign up to volunteer

Updated:
February 24, 2021

For the most up to date information, visit Recreation Sites and Trails BC. Click HERE for a list of parks that are open to visitors.

The 2020 season booking window for most campgrounds has now closed for 2020. Campgrounds will reopen for the beginning of the new season in Spring 2021. For more information regarding the specific operating dates for your preferred park please visit the individual park webpages.

Many municipal parks, beaches and gardens remain open. Certain parks have reduced services, including facility closures and parking limitations. Some public playgrounds and schoolyards remain closed. Check with your local municipality regarding parks near you. 

While enjoying a park, beach or garden, maintain social distancing of 2 metres. See: Can I get in legal trouble if I don’t practice “social distancing?”.

 

Updated:
February 8, 2021

The Federal Government has created COVID 19: Indigenous awareness resources which contains information and resources in Indigenous languages.

The Provincial Government has translated its COVID-19 Coronavirus content into 

 

The BC Centre of Disease Control has also provided translated handouts and videos in multiple languages HERE.

The City of Vancouver has made their COVID-19 resource available in multiple languages including Korean, Tagalog, Chinese (traditional and simplified), and Farsi among others. Find Vancouver resources in your language HERE.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

Canadians are strongly recommended to cancel or postpone all international travel.

Effective January 7, 2021, at 12:01 am EST, all air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.

As of February 21, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET, travellers, unless exempt, will also be required to:

  • take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival in Canada
  • stay in a hotel for 3 nights while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test they received on arrival
  • pay for their hotel, as well as all associated costs for food, cleaning and security

All hotels will be located near one of the 4 Canadian airports currently accepting international flights:

  1. Vancouver International Airport
  2. Calgary International Airport
  3. Toronto Pearson International Airport
  4. Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Travellers arriving to Canada by land, as of February 15, 2021, with some exceptions, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.

See HERE for a full list of restrictions and requirements when returning to Canada.

The Government of Canada will be further increasing surveillance efforts to ensure travellers entering Canada complete the applicable mandatory 14-day quarantine period under the Quarantine Act. Travellers to Canada must use the ArriveCAN App or website and provide accurate contact information and their mandatory 14-day quarantine plan on or before entry.

Violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

On January 5, 2021 BC updated the procedures in place for travellers returning from other countries. Go to Self-Isolation on Return to BC for full details.

 

Self-Isolation Plans

All international travellers returning to B.C., whether by land or air, are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days, submit a self-isolation plan and complete the federal CANArrive application.

Self-isolation plans must be reviewed by provincial government officials before travellers can return home.

You can submit your self-isolation plan and CANArrive application online before you begin your travel back to Canada or upon arrival. Go HERE for instructions on how to fill out your self-isolation plan and federal arrival application.

 

Assessment Process on Arrival

Starting April 8, 2020, additional screening measures will be put in place for people returning to B.C. from international locations including the United States by air, land or sea.

Soon travellers will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival in Canada, then they must stay in a hotel for 3 nights while they await their results of the COVID-19 molecular test and they will be responsible for paying for their hotel, as well as all associated costs for food, cleaning and security.

Current Quarantine Orders

On March 17, 2020, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) issued a quarantine order directing people returning to B.C. from the U.S. and other international destinations to self-isolate.

On March 25, 2020, the federal government implemented a self-isolation plan for returning international travellers on select flights under the Quarantine Act.

  • The federal government will continue to use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order to self-isolate, enforceable by RCMP or local police
  • Maximum penalties for breaking self-isolation orders include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months
Updated:
February 24, 2021

All orders can be enforced by police or other compliance and enforcement officials. People who don't follow the order could be fined.

On August 21, 2020, the BC Government announced new fines for owners, organizers, hosts and attendees of gatherings that violate the Provincial Health Officer’s orders. 

Police and other regulatory officers (such as conservation officers) now have the power to issue $2,000 to people hosting and organizing events that violate the orders. 

Individuals attending events who fail to follow the directions of officers or refuse to follow safe operating procedures are subject to a $200 fine. 

Mask enforcement (November 19, 2020 Province-wide Order)

You are subject to a $230 fine if you:

  • Do not wear a mask in an indoor public setting, unless you are exempt
  • Refuse to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space
  • Engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour

Businesses that violate the Province-wide public health order can be issued $2300 violation tickets.

To see the list of full BC enforcement measures and violation tickets, see Violation tickets for unsafe COVID-19 behaviour.

This order is in effect until further notice.

If you fail to quarantine or isolate  yourself (The federal government website explains the difference) as required upon returning to Canada from abroad, you can be fined or jailed under the Quarantine Act.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

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Home is not safe for everyone. The added stress of the crisis, on top of added financial pressure, and close quarters can trigger violence. Women and victims’ organizations are still operating to assist people facing violence in the home.  

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911, or call your community police.. You can also call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808. You can search BC Housing for a list of shelters near you. HealthLink BC also provides contact information for other services that support all victims, including youth and seniors.

Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) Crisis line remains open, providing emotional support to women experiencing gender-based domestic violence and/or uncertainty during these difficult times. They provide emotional support and can help you develop a safety plan. If safe, call or text 604-652-1867. You can also email them at intake@bwss.org

Transition Houses provide short- to long-term shelter and related support services to women, children, and youth who have experienced or are at risk of violence.  Find more information at www.sheltersafe.ca  

If you fear for your safety you may still be able to get a protection order from Family Court. Both the Supreme Court and Provincial Court will still hear applications if a judge determines the matter is urgent, including urgent applications for protection orders. See the BC Family Justice’s COVID -19 Legal Questions and the Legal Aid BC’s (formerly Legal Services Society) Q & A - Family Violence for more information and direction.

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Updated:
February 24, 2021

If you are in immediate danger call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, call SAIL ((Senior Abuse & Information Line) a safe place for older adults and those who care about them to talk to someone about situations of abuse and mistreatment. They are available 8am-8pm. Line Tel: 604-437-1940 / Toll Free: 1-866-437-1940. For more information go to Seniors First BC. Additional support services for mistreated seniors can be found at Where to Get Help on the Government of BC website.

Source:
Updated:
February 24, 2021

BC211 has started the Safe Seniors Strong Communities program that matches seniors who need support with non-medical essentials, to volunteers in their community who are willing to help.  Support includes grocery shopping, meal preparation, prescription pick up and phone/virtual visits. Sign up at BC211.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

The First Nations Community Guide to Accessing Additional Supports provides a list of federal resources and services available to Indigenous communities during the COVID -19 Coronavirus health crisis. It also includes specifics about how funding will be allocated to help the First Nation community health response. The Federal Government has also created the Indigenous Community Support Fund to assist Indigenous Communities prepare for, prevent,  and respond to COVID-19 Coronavirus. The Federal Government has also created COVID 19: Indigenous awareness resources which contains information and resources in Indigenous languages. 

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) has a comprehensive list of COVID-19 Coronavirus financial, health, and wellness resources. The First Nations Public Service Secretariat has created a list that summarizes the federal and provincial supports available to all First Nations people HERE

The First Nations Health Authority has provided a  COVID-19 resources for individuals and families. The provincial government has also set up a COVID-19 Information for First Nations and Indigenous Peoples page to provide resources to support First Nations in managing COVID-19. 

For mental health support, Hope for Wellness provides emotional support and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. You can call to connect with a counsellor. On request, phone counselling is also available in: Cree, Ojibway, Inuktitut. HelpLine: 1-855-242-3310 or www.hopeforwellness.ca

You may also call the KUU-US Crisis Response Service at 1-800-588-8717 for culturally-aware crisis support for Indigenous peoples in B.C.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

What’s on Queer BC has put together Need//Assist: COVID-19 Resources to help community members with issues arising during the health crisis such as food security, employment, mental health, and other community supports. This resource also has information on how you can help out during the crisis. Additionally, QCHAT is a peer support line and resource database for LGBTQ2S youth in British Columbia. They have a talkline open Monday to Wednesday, 6:00-9:00pm, toll-free at 1-855-956-1777.

Trans Care BC also delivers care and provides information to support trans people across the province. They have a growing list of peer support groups across BC for trans, gender diverse and Two-Spirit community members and their parents, caregivers, and support networks. It can be found HERE.

Qmunity, BC’s Queers, Trans, and Two-Spirit resource centre, offers free and reduced-cost health and wellness counselling for individuals, couples, relationships, and families. All of our counsellors are members of the LGBTQ2S+ communities. They also have a youth program and a program for older adults. For youth, please reach out to their Youth Specialist, Han either through email at youth@qmunity.ca, or directly on Facebook chat, through the GAB Youth Facebook group. You can also reach out to their Social Worker, Jennie at jennie.mw@qmunity.ca For older adults please call or email Courtney Dieckbrader, Specialist in Seniors Programming and get connected. Phone 604.684.5307 ext. 110, email seniors@qmunity.ca

 

Updated:
February 24, 2021

These feelings are completely reasonable reactions to what is happening right now. You are not alone! Learn what to do if you’re anxious or worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) from Anxiety Canada.

The federal government has launched the Wellness Together Canada online portal to help Canadians get connected to FREE mental health and substance use support, resources and counselling with a mental health professional. 

For immediate crisis support 

  • Adults text WELLNESS to 741741
  • Frontline workers text FRONTLINE to 741741
  • Youth can text WELLNESS to 686868

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support.

BC is expanding mental health services and creating new programs. Go HERE for help finding virtual mental health support during COVID-19.

Here are some more resources to help you cope:

 

For Indigenous Peoples, Hope for Wellness provides emotional support and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. You can call to connect with a counsellor. On request, phone counselling is also available in: Cree, Ojibway, Inuktitut. Help Line: 1-855-242-3310 or www.hopeforwellness.ca

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) has a comprehensive list of COVID-19 Coronavirus financial, health, and wellness resources.

Call the KUU-US Crisis Response Service at 1-800-588-8717 for culturally-aware crisis support for Indigenous peoples in B.C.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

No. Canada has imposed a mandatory 14 days self-isolation on all people coming into Canada for both people who have symptoms, and those who do not have symptoms. This means you must go directly home, and you are not to stop at a grocery store, or anywhere else, on your way home. See the Federal government's notice to travellers returning to Canada and the fact sheet on travellers without symptoms returning to Canada.

Go to the BC Centre of Disease Control for guidance on how and when to self-isolate.

Note: As of February 21st, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST, travellers will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival in Canada, then they must stay in a hotel for 3 nights while they await their results of the COVID-19 molecular test and they will be responsible for paying for their hotel, as well as all associated costs for food, cleaning and security. See HERE for more information.

If you do not self-quarantine you may be faced with fines or criminal charges. For more information on what that means see the federal government’s advisory HERE and the BC Centre of Disease Control’s guide to self-isolation

If you are a senior who has recently returned and need non-medical assistance (such as buying groceries) sign up for BC211’s Safe Seniors Strong Communities Program.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or sneezing, avoid contact with others and self-isolate at home for at least 10 days. If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, or have symptoms of COVID-19 Coronavirus, contact your doctor, local public health office, or call 8-1-1. The BCCDC also provides further instructions to follow if you suspect you are ill. 

If you have questions related to COVID-19 you can call: 

  • BC Coronavirus Information Line: 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or via text message at 604-630-0300
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Service: 1-833-784-4397
  • HealthLink BC for health-related questions: 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C., or for the deaf and hard of hearing, call 7-1-1 or contact us through Video Relay Services. Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
Updated:
February 24, 2021

Always check the BCCDC for up to date health information, but in general,  you must self-isolate if:

  1. You have COVID-19 Coronavirus
  2. You have had close contact with a confirmed case of the COVID-19 Coronavirus
  3. You have recently returned to Canada. Since March 25, 2020, by Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act it is mandatory for any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19
  4. You have symptoms of COVID-19 Coronavirus including a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing

See the BCCDC’s guide to Self-Isolation for information on when and how to self-isolate.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

We do our best to keep the information up to date but please check official resources for health information about the disease.

Everyone should be following the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) guidelines and practice physical distancing as much as possible. 

The BCCDC says:

Physical distancing is limiting close contact with other people to slow the spread of an infectious disease. This includes keeping two meters apart from others in public. 

Self-isolation means staying home and avoiding situations where you could come in contact with others. While you are self-isolating in BC, you will be required to monitor for new symptoms or signs of coronavirus such as fever, cough, sore throat, etc. 

Masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces. People who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt. For more information, see the order on province-wide restrictions in effect from November 19, 2020 until further notice

See BCCDC’s Common Questions page for more information. 

Updated:
February 24, 2021

There is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 Coronavirus, particularly about supposed cures. Always check official sources for information about the disease.

The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) has the best information available on the status of the outbreak in British Columbia and how to protect yourself and others. Go to the BCCBC’s COVID-19 page and their Common Questions page.

First Nations and Indigenous Peoples of BC may go HERE for a list of sources providing general information and support for Indigenous Peoples during the COVID-19 Coronavirus health crisis, including the First Nations Health Authority

For Federal resources go to the Federal Government’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update for more information on the Government of Canada’s precautions at international airports and borders.

World Health Organization FAQ: For more commonly asked questions and answers on COVID-19.

Updated:
February 24, 2021

There is a lot of information and misinformation available about Coronavirus. Be sure to always check official sources before you share information. Here are some reliable sources of information on COVID-19:

The Government of Canada’s website on COVID-19 has up to date information, guidance and support programs available during the crisis. 

The Government of British Columbia’s COVID-19 Coronavirus response is updated daily. The BC website now has its COVID-19 content translated into Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, and Tagalog.

The B.C. government has launched a COVID-19 support app to help provide residents with the latest information on the ongoing pandemic. The app can be downloaded through the Apple Store or Google Play and is also available as a website online here.

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