Bars, cinemas, tourist sector set for boost as B.C. transitions to Stage 2 of reopening

BC reaches stage 2 of reopen

Liquor will pour in restaurants until midnight, cinema projectors will roll once more and recreational travel throughout all corners of B.C. will resume.

The provincial government confirmed Monday that B.C. is transitioning to the second stage of its reopening plan, effective Tuesday — the earliest date possible in.

“Case counts are declining, hospitalizations are stabilizing and [vaccinations] are climbing at a positive rate,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said.

While travel restrictions within the province are loosening, the province is advising against non-essential travel from other provinces.

In addition to allowing indoor seated gatherings of up to 50 patrons — the key factor behind reopening movies theatres and banquet halls, albeit at limited capacity — British Columbians will also be permitted to hold outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people.

And people can invite either up to five others or one other household into their homes, high-intensity indoor fitness classes can resume at reduced capacity and indoor team games will be allowed — but without spectators.

Spectators will be allowed to gather for outdoor sports, as long as the gathering does not exceed 50 people.

Transitioning to Stage 2 of the province’s four-stage plan, unveiled late last month, was dependent on at least 65% of adults in the province getting jabbed with their first COVID-19 vaccine dose as well as a continued decline in cases and hospitalizations.

Such benchmarks were quickly achieved in the three weeks since provincial officials outlined the reopening plans.

As of Friday, 75.1% of adults in B.C. and 73.1% of those 12 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. Meanwhile, both active cases and hospitalizations have been halved since late May.

“We will continue to monitor through the next incubation period before moving to the next stage,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

But Health Minister Adrian Dix said last week British Columbians should not expect the government to accelerate plans for Stage 3 of the reopening despite signs the province is exceeding benchmarks.

He said at the time that sticking to the previously determined dates — July 1 is the earliest possible date the province could transition to Stage 3 — would make residents more confident about the government’s plan.

Meanwhile, theatre chains were already scheduling screenings this week of new releases prior to any confirmation from the province that they would be allowed to reopen.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees BC (ABLE BC), told BIV last month the extension of liquor-serving hours beyond 10 p.m. is significant for the industry since 30-60% of liquor sales come after that hour depending on the establishment.

“Little things like that can be a massive difference for industry,” Guignard said, adding nightclubs likely wouldn’t be doing much business anyway if alcohol sales ceased at 10 p.m.

The reopening of nightclubs is not on the table until at least July 1 with the potential arrival of Stage 3.

More BC News