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.

Last updated: February 8, 2021

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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. 

By order of the PHO, all gatherings and events are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions. The order came into effect November 19, 2020 at midnight and will be kept in place until further notice based on direction from the PHO.

Gatherings at residences or vacation accommodations

No 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 into your residence or vacation accommodation
  • Do not gather in your backyard, patio, driveway or anywhere else on your property
  • Do not host playdates for children

Core bubble

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 at 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. 

 

Activities allowed under the order

These activities are not considered a social gathering:

  • Going for a walk or hike. You must make sure a walk or hike does not turn into a group of people meeting outside
  • 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

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

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 at any location, that includes:
 

  • Inside or outside homes
  • Any public or community-based venues

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

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.
 

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.

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.

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

Employers must review and redouble their efforts on their COVID-19 Safety Plan, remind employees to monitor themselves daily and to always stay home if they have symptoms.

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. 

 

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 allowed. Low intensity group exercise does not cause a sustained and accelerated rate of breathing and does not involve close contact with other people. These include:

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

Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate low intensity group fitness activities must follow the restrictions in the order, including a COVID-19 Safety Plan developed following public health guidelines.

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 team sports. 

High performance athletes 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 to, from and between communities for athletic activities like games, competitions, training and practice is prohibited. However, athletes can travel to their home club if their home club is outside of their immediate community. For example:
 

  • A figure skater who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region but trains at their home club in Burnaby
  • A soccer player who lives in the Fraser Health region but trains at their home club in Vancouver

 

Adult indoor and outdoor team sports

Indoor and outdoor team 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
  • Netball
  • Team skating
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Indoor bowling
  • Lawn bowling
  • Curling
  • Lacrosse
  • Hockey
  • Ultimate
  • Rugby 
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Softball

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

  • Two people may engage in indoor sports with one another
  • Four people may engage in outdoor sports with one another

In both cases, 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 should follow viaSport's Return to Sport Phase 2 guidance with respect to maintaining physical distance for participants. This means games, tournaments and competitions are temporarily suspended for teams.

  • Individual drills and modified training activities can continue
  • Amateur sports organizations and leagues may implement additional guidelines to ensure the health and safety of participants

All indoor and outdoor team sports for people 22 years of age and older are suspended.


PHO order on restaurants, pubs and bars

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

You must wear a mask when not at a table. Events are no longer allowed. 

Restaurants, pubs and bars can continue to operate if they 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
  • Sport or fitness facilities when not working out

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

Travel advisory

At this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province. For example:

  • Do not travel for a vacation
  • Do not travel to visit friends or family outside of your household or core bubble

What is essential travel?

Individual circumstances may affect whether a trip is considered essential or non-essential. Essential travel within B.C. includes:

  • Regular travel for work within your region
  • Travel for things like medical appointments and hospital visits

For example, if you live in Vancouver and work in Surrey you can continue to commute. 

If you need to travel for essential reasons, take the same health and safety precautions you do at home.

  • Wash your hands often
  • Practice safe distancing, 2 m
  • Travel only with yourself, household or core bubble
  • Stick to the outdoors whenever possible
  • Clean spaces often
  • Wear a mask in indoor spaces

First Nations communities

Many First Nations have declared a state of emergency for their communities and enacted COVID-19 community protection by-laws including travel bans for non-residents and non-essential visitors. It is important to respect these restrictions in addition to the province-wide travel advisory. 

Coming from outside of B.C.

At this time, people travelling to B.C. from another province or territory within Canada should only come for essential reasons. If you do travel, you are expected to follow the same travel guidelines as everyone else in B.C.


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.