Today, Premier John Horgan announced British Columbia has entered “Stage 3” of its Re-Start Plan, which is a staged approach to increasing travel throughout the Province, and otherwise re-opening businesses and services in British Columbia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Province also announced it is extending the state of emergency another two weeks, until July 7th.
The following changes will be implemented as a result of B.C. entering Stage 3, which will affect some businesses operating in the Province. Those affected will be permitted to operate subject to their ability to comply with existing social distancing protocols and guidance:
Travel within BC
The Premier is now encouraging travel within the Province, and requests visitors respect the communities they visit and continue to observe social distancing measures.
The Premier also stated that British Columbia is now welcoming visitors from elsewhere in Canada, particularly the bordering provinces of Alberta and Yukon, so long as social distancing measures are observed.
While inter-provincial travel was never formally restricted in BC, previously the Premier had requested it be limited to only essential purposes.
Hotels, motels, RV parks, cabins, resorts, hostels, lodges, and backcountry operators
Although the accommodation industry was never formally ordered to be closed in B.C., many operators closed voluntarily given the lack of travel within the Province, and the recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer. The accommodation industry is expected to operate consistent with the protocols set by WorkSafeBC as Stage 3 commences.
BC Parks overnight campgrounds are also now open, and accepting reservations.
Motion picture and television production
It is expected that motion picture and television production in B.C. will resume during Stage 3. Employers in this industry must ensure they are compliant with WorkSafeBC protocols, and all relevant orders and guidance from the Provincial Health Officer.
K-12 School (In person)
K-12 schools have gradually re-opened in B.C., on a voluntary and part-time basis. As part of Stage 3, it is anticipated that a return to full-time in class learning will resume in September 2020, if it is safe to do so.
All businesses which choose to open must ensure they are in compliance with physical distancing requirements and all other mandatory public health orders. Sector specific guidance for re-opening, as well as the orders and guidance of the Provincial Health Officer are available here.
If you have any questions about this topic, require assistance with recalling employees or drafting a return to work policy, or any other questions relating to workplace law or COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.