Barrier protects checkout clerk at a grocery store in North Vancouver, March 22, 2020. Other businesses are expected to use similar strategies to minimize risk to customers and employees. (The Canadian Press)

COVID-19: B.C. prepares to restart more retail, services, offices in May

Dentistry, hair salons, restaurants need approved protection plans

The B.C. government is moving cautiously to open up more businesses and services in the COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses, medical and other services required to show how they will increase protection for customers and employees.

Premier John Horgan released B.C.’s “restart plan” May 6, without specific dates for activities to resume. The plan provides that starting in mid-May, with additional safety measures in place, B.C. residents can look forward to small gatherings, dentistry, physiotherapy and other services, and most provincial parks reopened for day use starting May 14. If infection rates remain low, some camping can resume by June 1.

“We’re going to be proceeding carefully, bit by bit, one step at a time,” Horgan said, emphasizing that the ability of the health care to handle COVID-19 cases is paramount.

The B.C. legislature is also expected to resume sitting, dealing with the financial impact of two months of lost employment and business income, and unprecedented public spending to support people and businesses.

Other activities to be reviewed by WorkSafeBC and resumed this spring are restaurants and pubs that have sufficient distance measures, as well as museums, art galleries, libraries and office-based work sites.

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The plans will build on techniques already in place for essential services such as grocery stores, with barriers and controls on the number of people in an indoor space at one time.

The health ministry and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will continue monitoring coronavirus cases as public interaction increases into the summer, and bracing for a possible increase as fall approaches with the resumption of seasonal influenza as well as COVID-19 risk.

Horgan emphasized that large gatherings, like spectator sports, are off the table for the foreseeable future. While some in-class instruction is being provided for the children of essential workers, full public school and post-secondary isn’t expected to come back until fall.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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