British Columbia's restaurants and bars are set to reap the benefits of loosened public health orders starting June 15, 2021, as the province enters Step 2 of its four-part "Restart" plan.
With B.C. not just meeting, but exceeding its vaccination goal for the province of 65% of adults 18 and over by this point by getting to 75%, several coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions will be lifted, effective Tuesday.
When it comes to the hospitality industry, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday (June 14) that liquor service in restaurants, bars, and pubs will now be extended to 12 midnight.
Additionally, banquet halls may re-open, with approved COVID-19 safety plans, to welcome groups of up to 50 people indoors.
Restaurants in B.C. may now also hold events of up to 50 people.
"Several fundamental layers of protection will remain in place," said B.C. Premier John Horgan Monday.
Those layers of protection for restaurants and banquet halls include WorkSafeBC-approved pandemic operation plans, as well as social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing while inside venues.
Henry calls B.C.'s "Restart" plan a "slow and gradual" approach designed to ease the province from step to step with built-in two-week windows - the COVID-19 incubation period - between steps.
All other capacity limits and guidelines as outlined in Step 1 of the province's "Restart" plan remain in place for B.C.'s restaurants, which means continuing practices like mandatory contact tracing, and a maximum of six people seated together.
B.C.'s leaders are keen to have residents heading out to support local restaurants or to take trips around the province and dine out while travelling.
"As we move forward into Step 2, I encourage everyone to visit their local businesses. Do some shopping or have lunch with friends at your favourite restaurant. This is how we help our local businesses and communities truly recover," said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.
"We're on track to meet all of our milestones through the restart plan," noted Horgan.
Step 3 is slated to begin no sooner than July 1, and will see a significant lift in restrictions in the province. For restaurants that will mean no caps on how many people are seated at one table indoors or outdoors, all liquor restrictions will lift, and nightclubs will be able to re-open with limited capacity.