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What are the new restrictions under the province-wide public health order? Are masks mandatory?

Category
Updated
24, 02-2021

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.

Is the new COVID-19 vaccine safe? When will I get vaccinated?

Date:
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.

 

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What are the new restrictions under the province-wide public health order? Are masks mandatory?

Date:
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.

Source:

Do I have to wear a mask?

Date:
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.

 

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Can I still wash my hands if my BC community has a boil water advisory?

Date:
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.

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My kids are online much more than usual due to COVID-19 Coronavirus. What can I do to ensure they are safe?

Date:
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.

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I want to do more. How can I help respond to COVID-19 Coronavirus?

Date:
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

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Are parks in BC closed due to COVID-19?

Date:
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?”.

 

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Where can I find information about COVID-19 Coronavirus in my own language?

Date:
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.

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I am about to travel back to BC from another country. What COVID-19 rules are in place for travellers?

Date:
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
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Can I get in legal trouble if I don’t practice “social distancing” or provincial health orders in BC?

Date:
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.

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