Province-wide restrictions

Provincial restrictions are in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Some restrictions are made by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) under the Public Health Act and others are made under the Emergency Program Act (EPA). Most orders can be enforced by police and compliance and enforcement officials.

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Last updated: April 23, 2021

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Do your part to keep B.C. safe

Stronger province-wide restrictions

The PHO has strengthened province-wide restrictions. These restrictions came into effect March 29 at 11:59 pm and last to May 24 at midnight. They include:

  • The variance allowing indoor religious gatherings and worship services between March 28 and May 13 is suspended
  • Indoor low intensity group exercise classes are cancelled
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars are closed for indoor dining. Outdoor patio seating and take-out or delivery is allowed
  • Workplaces with a COVID-19 exposure may be ordered to close for a minimum of 10 days

Safety recommendations

In addition to the orders, the PHO strongly recommends:

  • Working from home whenever possible, unless it is essential to be in the workplace
  • Keeping your child home from school if they feel sick or have any sign of illness
  • Getting testing immediately if you or anyone in your family feels sick

Masks in schools

All K to 12 staff and all students in grades 4 to 12 are required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, including:

  • At their work stations (desks)
  • On school buses
  • Within and outside learning groups

PHO order on gatherings and events

This content is a summary of the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF) document. It is not legal advice and does not provide an interpretation of the law. In the event of any conflict or difference between this webpage and the order, the order is correct and legal and must be followed. 

Social gatherings

Indoor gatherings

No indoor social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or, if you live alone, your core bubble. For example:

  • Do not invite friends or extended family inside your residence or vacation accommodation
  • Do not host a party or event inside your house

Outdoor gatherings

Up to 10 people can gather outdoors. For example:

  • Up to 10 people can gather at a park or beach
  • Up to 10 people can gather in the backyard of a residence

Do not gather with several groups of new people. Stick to the same people. Continue to use COVID-19 layers of protection and maintain physical distancing. Patios and outdoor areas at restaurants, pubs and bars are not included as places to gather with 10 people at one table.

For most people, their core bubble is their immediate household. An immediate household is a group of people who live in the same residence. For example:

  • If you have a rental suite in your home, the suite is a separate residence
  • If you live in an apartment or house with roommates, you are all members of the same household

For people who live alone, a core bubble is a maximum of two people you see regularly.

The order does not impact arrangements where children are occupants of two separate households. Children may go back and forth between the two residences.

For those who rely on a family member or close friends for support with things like picking up children after school or delivering essential items like mail, medication or groceries, these activities can continue.

Welcoming your child home from university is okay. This is not a social gathering. 

 

Visiting people who live alone

People who live alone may have up to two visitors inside their residence for a social purpose. These are the two people in your core bubble.

  • If those two people regularly interact with each other, they may visit the residence of the person who lives alone at the same time

People who live alone may also visit one other residence with more than one occupant. 

 

Gatherings and events by sector

Cultural events and gatherings are prohibited. For example:
 

  • Musical or theatre performances
  • Galas
  • Silent auctions
  • Movie viewings in cinemas

Drive-in events

Drive-in events may proceed with a limited number of people. Drive-in events can have a maximum of 50 cars in attendance. People must stay in their cars and should attend with their household or core bubble. Drive-in events must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

Examples of drive-in events:
 

  • Drive-in movies
  • Religious services

Drop-off events

Drop-off events may proceed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

Examples of drop-off events:
 

  • Fundraisers
  • Toy drives

All drive-in and drop-off events must:
 

  • Maintain physical distancing 
  • Control the entry and exit points
  • Avoid congestion of cars and congregating of people

The order restricts most formal in-person meetings outside the workplace, with some exceptions including:
 

  • The B.C. legislature and cabinet meetings
  • City council meetings. It is recommended virtual meetings be held as much as possible. The public is not allowed to attend
  • Support groups like Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous
  • Critical service meetings

Indoor 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. Review BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) information on event planning.
 

  • The event organizer and staff present at the event are not included in the 10 people limit
  • If the event organizer also acts as the officiant, that person is included in the 10 people limit

Receptions associated with funerals, weddings or baptisms are not allowed inside homes or venues.

Indoor in-person religious gatherings and worship services of any size are prohibited.

  • You must not attend a service at a church, synagogue, mosque, gudwara, temple or other place of worship
  • Religious services can continue using remote or virtual attendance options, like Zoom or Skype

You can still visit your place of worship for individual activities such as guidance from spiritual leaders, contemplation or personal prayer.

Religious leaders may attend the home of a member of their religious community to provide religious services to the occupant.

You can attend an outdoor religious gathering.

Meals for people in need may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 50 people in attendance in addition to the organizer and people assisting. This includes:
 

  • Soup kitchens
  • Meals at shelters
  • Charities offering meals

Pre-packaged meals are the best option to limit gatherings inside a dining area.
 

Funerals conducted by a religious body may be held outdoors (including in open-sided tents and under overhead coverings). Before, during and after the funeral service, people must not gather or socially engage.

  • Up to 50 people may attend, plus 2 extra people to make sure rules are followed

Religious worship services may be held outdoors (including in open-sided tents and under overhead coverings). Before, during and after the service, people must not gather or socially engage.

  • Up to 50 people may attend, plus 2 extra people to make sure rules are followed
  • Participants must be 2 metres apart unless they live in the same private residence
  • Drive-in worship events can continue to operate (No more than 50 vehicles may be present, and people who attend in a vehicle must remain in the vehicle)
  • Musical groups of up to 5 musicians may perform
  • The only people who can sing are soloists and worship leaders. The only people who can chant are worship leaders

Masks are required at all times by everyone in attendance.

  • Masks can only be removed by soloists (when singing), worship leaders (when speaking, singing or chanting), readers (when reading out loud), or musicians who need to do so to play their instrument. They must maintain 3 metres of spacing or use a physical barrier
  • Masks are not required for people who can’t wear a mask due to a condition or impairment or kids under the age of 12

Organizers must:

  • Collect information for contract tracing
  • Supply hand sanitizer
  • Caution those at risk, including seniors and those with underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems, from attending

The limited operation of perimeter seating vehicles and buses is permitted, subject to restrictions respecting hours of operation and distancing of passengers.

Rental and home viewings should be restricted to a maximum of six people, subject to each person present  being able to keep two metres away from every other person present at all times.

Retail businesses are required to:
 

  • Establish capacity limits based on 5 square metres of unencumbered space per person
  • Post occupancy limits
  • Where practical, post directional signs to keep people moving in the same direction and not congregating

A workplace that has workers testing positive for COVID-19 and public health confirming transmission has occurred in the work environment may be ordered to close for a minimum of 10 days.

For larger workplaces, the closure may be restricted to the locations where transmission has occurred.

Exceptions will be made for workplaces like:

  • Courthouses, police stations and fire halls
  • Healthcare facilities, schools, shelters
  • Ferry system and public transportation
  • Distribution hubs of necessary goods such as food and medicine

Employers must make every effort to provide work from home options.  

Daily health check

A daily health check should already be included in every business’s existing COVID-19 Safety Plan.
 

Structured extracurricular activities and programs for children or youth 21 years of age and younger can continue to operate with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. They must be supervised by an adult. These include:
 

  • Education programs
  • Music
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Outdoor exercise
  • Recreational programs

Structured extracurricular activities and programs for children or youth are subject to a 50 person limit.

Performances, recitals and demonstrations are not allowed. 

 

Activities allowed under the order

These activities are not considered a social gathering:

  • Going for a walk or hike
  • Parents carpooling kids to and from school
  • Grandparents providing child care
  • Public pools and public skating rinks, when not associated with an event, are allowed to continue to operate with a COVID-19 Safety Plan

Exercise

Indoor high intensity group exercise

Indoor high intensity group exercise is prohibited. High intensity group exercise causes a sustained and accelerated rate of breathing and may involve close contact with other people. Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate high intensity group exercise must suspend the following activities:

  • Hot yoga
  • Spin classes 
  • Aerobics
  • Bootcamp
  • High intensity aspects of circuit training
  • High intensity interval training (HIIT)

Indoor low intensity group exercise

Indoor low intensity group exercise is prohibited until May 24 at midnight. These include:

  • Yoga (Hatha)
  • Low intensity exercise machines and cardio equipment
  • Pilates
  • Light weightlifting
  • Stretching
  • Tai-Chi
  • Low intensity Barre classes

Gyms and recreation facilities

Gyms and recreation facilities that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is strictly followed.

Sports

The order places restrictions on adult and youth indoor and outdoor group sports. 

High performance athletes already training in B.C. as of November 19, 2020 can train, travel and compete together. They must follow the COVID-19 safety protocols of the provincial or national sports organization they are affiliated with.

To qualify as a high-performance athlete, you must be identified by the Canadian Sports Institute Pacific as a high-performance athlete affiliated with an accredited provincial or national sports organization.

Spectators are not allowed at any sport activities. The only people allowed to attend sport activities are those that provide care to a participant or player. For example, providing personal care or first aid to a player.

 

Travel for sport

Travel for athletic activities like games, competitions, training and practice is prohibited. This includes:

  • A hockey player travelling from Vernon to Penticton to participate on their spring hockey team
  • A softball player traveling from Kamloops to Vancouver to participate on their rep team
  • A dancer travelling from Langley to Whistler to participate in a virtual competition

Participants can travel to their home club if their home club is outside of their immediate community. That club needs to be close to a participant's residence, like a neighbouring community. For example:

  • A skier part of the local ski club travelling to their local mountain, which may be in a neighbouring community
  • An archer travelling to a neighbouring community because their community does not have an archery club
  • A high-performance athlete travelling to a nearby community to receive specialized training

 

Adult indoor and outdoor group sports

Group sports are activities involving more than one person. This includes group training and practice for an individual or team sport. Games, tournaments and competitions for indoor and outdoor group sports for people 22 years of age and older are prohibited. These include:

  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading
  • Combat sports
  • Floor hockey
  • Floor ringette
  • Road hockey
  • Ice hockey
  • Ringette
  • Martial arts and other combat sports
  • Netball
  • Team skating
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Indoor bowling
  • Lawn bowling
  • Curling
  • Lacrosse
  • Hockey
  • Ultimate
  • Rugby 
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Tennis (Tournaments)
  • Golf (Tournaments)
  • Pickleball (Tournaments/Group Competitions)
  • Cricket
  • Group cycling (Competitions)

While restrictions are currently in place related to adult group sports, some indoor and outdoor sports and activities, including drills and training activities, are permitted with modifications and a reduced number of participants:

  • 2 people may engage in indoor sports with one another
  • 10 people may engage in outdoor sports with one another

Participants must maintain a distance of 3 metres from one another unless everyone lives in the same private residence.

Youth indoor and outdoor team sports

All organized indoor and outdoor sports for people 21 years of age and younger are limited to training and practice where all participants maintain 3 metres of physical distance from one another. This means games, tournaments and competitions are temporarily suspended. Amateur sports organizations and leagues may implement additional guidelines to ensure the health and safety of participants.


PHO order on restaurants, pubs and bars

Restaurants, pubs, bars and food courts are closed for indoor dining until May 24 at midnight.

  • Outdoor patio seating and take-out or delivery is allowed
  • Breweries, wineries and tasting rooms can operate outdoor patios
  • Liquor may only be served on a patio if people are seated

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, people should only be dining at restaurants with their household. For people who live alone, this should be with a maximum of two people they regularly interact with (core bubble).

Restaurants, pubs and bars must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and employee protocols in place. WorkSafeBC will be conducting inspections to verify that COVID-19 Safety Plans remain effective. Establishments that are noncompliant with plan requirements may face orders and fines, and possible referral to public health which may result in a closure order.


EPA order on masks in public indoor settings

As outlined in the EPA mask mandate order, masks are required for everyone in many public indoor settings. A face shield is not a substitute for a mask as it has an opening below the mouth.

There are exemptions for:

  • People with health conditions or with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who cannot wear one
  • People who cannot remove a mask on their own
  • Children under the age of 12
  • People who need to remove their masks to communicate due to another person's hearing impairment

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

  • Malls, shopping centres
  • Grocery stores
  • Airports
  • Coffee shops
  • On public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle
  • Places of worship
  • Libraries
  • Common areas of post-secondary institutions, office buildings, court houses (except court rooms), hospitals and hotels
  • Clothing stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Drug stores
  • Community centres
  • Recreation centres
  • City Halls
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars when not seated at a table
  • Indoor exercise/fitness facilities
  • Indoor sport facilities when not actively participating

Mask enforcement

You could be 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

Masks at workplaces and shared living areas

It is strongly recommended that masks be worn in the following areas:

  • Common areas in apartment buildings and condos, including:
    • Elevators
    • Hallways
    • Lobbies
    • Stairwells
  • Shared indoor workplace spaces, including:
    • Elevators
    • Kitchens
    • Hallways
    • Break rooms

Enforcement

During a public health emergency under the Public Health Act, the PHO can make orders as needed. You must follow the orders. Some orders can be enforced by police or other compliance and enforcement officials. People who don't follow these orders could be fined.