'Circuit breaker' orders expire Monday, future plans to come Tuesday

No notice to restaurants

Premier John Horgan says the “circuit breaker” of several public health orders in B.C. will be “lifted at midnight on Monday,” but Dr. Bonnie Henry cautioned that “it's not going to be a light switch, it's going to be dimmer switch.”

In late March, amid rapidly rising COVID-19 cases, Premier Horgan once again put an end to indoor dining in restaurants, banned indoor group fitness classes and suspended a variance that would have allowed some indoor religious gatherings. A month later, the province banned non-essential travel between the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the rest of the province, and enforced the order with police road checks.

These measures are set to expire at midnight on May 24, but it remains unclear if any of the restrictions will be extended.

“The circuit breaker was going to be in effect until midnight on the Monday of the long weekend,” Premier Horgan said Thursday.

“Everyone knows that, everyone heard that and they've also heard that on Tuesday, Minister Dix, Dr. Henry and I will be laying out the roadmap going forward.”

This week, Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association, publicly asked the province for at least 10 days of notice before lifting the indoor dining ban, due to unique challenges restaurants face ordering perishable food products and rehiring staff. But Thursday, Horgan would not definitively say if the province will be reopening indoor dining come next week.

“The planning will begin when the orders are lifted,” he said. “And the orders are lifted at midnight on Monday of the long weekend and the roadmap will be laid out on the Tuesday.

“By and large the hospitality sector also understands that we have to ensure that we have to give this information equitably to all British Columbians so they can make the choices that they need to make coming out of the circuit breaker and going into the restart plan.”

It remains unclear what this “roadmap” will look like.

“We are seeing things go in the right direction, but we also know, as we have learned in the last 18 months, that things can change quickly,” Dr. Henry said following Horgan's comments.

“Nothing is going to be back to 100 per cent on Tuesday. It's not going to be a light switch, it's going to be dimmer switch.”

Horgan defended his government's lack of notice about what next week will look like, saying he wants to ensure British Columbians still follow the rules this coming long weekend.

“It's human nature, and we've seen it in previous situations through the pandemic, that when people hear that there is good news on the horizon, they assume that that horizon is now,” Horgan said. “And we need to get through this long weekend.”

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