A Careful Restart
B.C.’s restart will be a careful, step-by-step process to ensure all of our combined efforts and sacrifices are not squandered.
For the different organizational sectors to move forward, they will be asked to develop enhanced protocols aligned with the Public Health and Safety Guidelines. A cross-ministry committee of deputy ministers will monitor the process and ensure overall alignment with the Public Health and Safety Guidelines and WorkSafeBC. The Provincial Health Officer will continue to provide input and advice as needed throughout the review process.
In some instances, this will require consideration by the Provincial Health Officer of lifting or modifying existing orders before certain businesses re-open. Businesses and organizations that are not covered by a Provincial Health Officer order may re-open or continue to operate but they will be expected to adopt and implement sector safety plans are they are finalized.
Where we are today
Essential Services Operating During COVID-19
Industries that were designated as essential services developed safe operation plans in consultation with WorkSafeBC and in compliance with the public health orders issued by the Provincial Health Officer.
As a result, B.C.’s economy has continued to operate in ways other provinces haven’t. But it’s undeniable that local businesses have suffered.
Many businesses closed for other reasons, including reduced demand, such as in the retail, hospitality and export industries. Others closed to do their part in helping to flatten the curve, protecting their customers and employees.
To help these businesses and other organizations get back on their feet, we need workplace practices that ensure British Columbians feel safe, whether they are returning to work or going out as a customer. That means employers will need to engage with their employees to find the right solutions and consider the concerns and needs of their customers.
Under enhanced protocols:
June to September
If transmission rates remain low or in decline, under enhanced protocols:
To be determined
Conditional on at least one of the following: wide vaccination, “community” immunity, broad successful treatments:
The timing of a safe restart of night clubs, casinos and bars is a more complicated consideration. As with other sectors, industry associations will be expected to develop safe operations plans, for review, that are in keeping with Public Health and Safety Guidelines, as well as WorkSafeBC.
Resources to assist businesses and sectors as they restart their activities including new Health Guidelines and Checklists are available from WorkSafeBC.
Some Next Steps to Make Life a Little Easier
Reopening our Parks
Reopening B.C.’s iconic parks will come in rapid stages. Our priority is providing safe access and services to people across the province while maintaining the safety of staff and park operators.
BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC will reintroduce services in keeping with direction from the Provincial Health Officer.
May 14, 2020
Beginning on May 14, 2020, those BC Parks, recreation sites and trails that can accommodate physical distancing will reopen for day use only.
Parks and recreation sites that can safely provide existing service levels, such as garbage disposal and washroom facilities, will do so.
Some areas and facilities remain closed, including playgrounds, picnic shelters and visitor centres.
June 1, 2020
Camping at provincial parks and recreation sites will reopen June 1, 2020, with some exceptions.
Reopening our Schools
As COVID-19 spread, governments everywhere took action to reduce in the classroom learning.
For most British Columbians with young children, this meant having to stay at home to look after their kids. While many workplaces have made work-from-home accommodations, that hasn’t been an option for everyone.
Our schools and educators rose to the challenge with online instruction and resources to keep our kids learning, but this placed a heavy burden on parents to support their kids as they learned at home.
We know there is no substitute for in-class instruction — and an important step toward our recovery is getting kids back into the classroom, so parents can get back into the workplace.
Initial health data indicates children are less affected than adults by the COVID-19 virus. Public health staff and officials will continue to review the health data. And the Ministry of Education and school divisions all around B.C. are reviewing options to allow for a safe return to school.
An announcement on a phased approach to resuming in-class instruction will be made in the coming weeks.
This will not be a return to normal. With weeks left in the school year, we anticipate many kids will not return to the classroom until September.
But we are also exploring ways to safely get some kids back to school before the summer, to allow more parents to return to work. How these changes unfold are the focus of intensive discussion among Ministry of Education officials, school trustees, the BC Teachers’ Federation, CUPE, and other education sector partners.
For more information on protective measures that will be required of schools and post-secondary institutions, please refer to the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Strategy (PDF, 634KB) and the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Checklist (PDF, 320KB).
Reopening Child Care & Summer Camps
Summer camps and childcare services give our kids the chance to explore their interests and develop physically, mentally and emotionally. They also allow parents to continue to work knowing that their children are being well taken care of.
Like all businesses, childcare centres and camps will need to take additional precautions to maintain the health and safety of their employees and the children they are caring for. For many childcare centres that operated as essential services during the pandemic, they have already adapted and are operating safely. But reopening more childcare centres will be a key part of getting more parents back to work.
The basics will include routine daily screening of staff and kids; frequent cleaning; and ensuring staff and children who have cold or flu symptoms do not attend childcare or summer camps.
But these sectors will also be required to review and work through new practices in their specific sectoral standards such as the Child Care Setting Practice Standards.
For more information on protective measures that will be required of day cares and summer camps, please refer to the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Strategy (PDF, 634KB) and the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Checklist (PDF, 320KB).
Expanding Public Transit Services
Many of us know what it means to ride on a tightly packed bus or SkyTrain. Before the pandemic, physical distancing was not always an option.
British Columbians were quick to act on direction from the Provincial Health Officer, including staying home and avoiding unnecessary trips outside the home. This made riding public transit easier for people working in essential services.
As B.C. begins our restart and more people gradually return to the workplace, there will be greater pressures on our public transportation networks to help people get around safely.
Ensuring operators and passengers can safely use public transit is critical. Enhanced health and safety precautions, including frequent cleaning; wearing non-medical masks for riders and staff; use of plexiglass or physical barriers where possible for drivers; and staying home when sick will be a part of the new normal for the foreseeable future.
The safe operation of public transit is a priority for all British Columbians. Over the coming weeks, we will be working with our transit agencies on more detailed plans to gradually restore service levels as restrictions begin to lift – both to help people get around and to ensure people can continue to respect physical distancing.
(Government of BC, 2020)
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