Too soon to say when indoor dining ban will be lifted, says Dr. Bonnie

When can we eat indoors?

Indoor dining in restaurants will eventually resume in B.C., but health officials don't recommend that you make plans anytime soon.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters this week that indoor dining will resume sometime in the future – but it is still too early to provide a timeline of when that will happen.

While the number of new daily cases of the virus has decreased over the past couple of weeks, Henry said infection rates are still too high and more people need to be immunized before health officials will consider easing restrictions.

Last week, Vancouver Coastal Health extended COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all hospitality and restaurant workers across the health authority.

In an emailed update sent to members on Thursday, the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association said it had received confirmation that hospitality staff in the VCH region are included in this group and may now book an appointment to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine "regardless of age." This eligibility has been extended to workers in Whistler, Squamish, Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Richmond, the association added.

The vaccination announcement was welcomed by frontline workers across the region and Henry noted that vaccines will offer vital protection for those employees. She added that the program will also allow the province to eventually lift the dining restrictions, but that it was too early to consider opening soon.

"We will be talking more about when the restrictions that we have in place are going to be lifted and what that will look like in the coming weeks and months, but we're not at that place quite yet," she said.

Henry also mentioned that indoor dining is important for restaurants and that it offers an "important safe place when rates are low in our community."

Public health orders regarding restaurant service in B.C. were amended at the end of March to implement the restriction on indoor dining as part of a slate of "circuit breaker" measures.

The current restrictions on indoor dining in B.C. restaurants are set to expire after the May long weekend. However, they were also extended on April 19 when they were previously slated to expire.

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