OPINION: Our careful restart plan

BY AMAN SINGH

NDP MLA for Richmond-Queensborough

 

EACH and every day, I hear about more friends, family and community members who are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. As of this week, more than 70% of eligible adults across B.C. have received their first dose of vaccine. This is a milestone we can all be proud of, but also a reminder of all we have sacrificed in the past year.

The provincial vaccination rate means that we can now start to reduce public health orders and restrictions in a careful and gradual way. BC’s Restart Plan is a 4-step plan that will bring us back together and allow us to resume many of the things we love.

As of May 25, we are in Step 1 of the plan. This means that we can now have visits with up to five people (or one other household) indoors, and up to ten people outdoors. Organized events, like funerals and wedding ceremonies, can proceed with up to ten people indoors or up to 50 people outside, as long as they remain seated.  We can also resume traveling anywhere within the travel region, as well as dining indoors in restaurants in groups of up to six people.

I know this is welcome news for many people as we move into summer. But I want to be clear that we still have work to do. In order to move to the next phase of the restart, we need to continue to follow all public health advice, like wearing masks and keeping 2m apart in public indoor spaces. It’s also still essential to stay home and get tested if you feel sick – even if you have already been vaccinated. We will only move to the next step if the case counts and hospitalization rates continue to decline.

Although our province-wide vaccine rollout is moving ahead of schedule, some communities continue to see lower rates of vaccination. If you have already registered or received your vaccine, take a few minutes this week to check in with your family, friends, and neighbours – they might need some help or just an extra nudge to get themselves registered, too. Remind them they can register online at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca or by phone at 1-833-838-2323, with translation in over 120 languages.

If we continue to see transmission of COVID-19 going down, we will move to Step 2 as early as June 15. We can look forward to summer recreational travel anywhere in B.C., personal gatherings and parties of up to 50 people outdoors, and indoor group fitness classes, with reduced capacity.

Looking ahead to Step 3, which will start July 1 at the earliest, we expect that bingo halls, casinos, and nightclubs will reopen with limited capacity, limited spectators will be allowed at indoor sports games, and recreational travel will be possible throughout Canada.

We have come so far in the past year, and we can’t afford to risk all the progress we’ve made. So as we carefully get back to the things we love, we need to continue to keep ourselves and the people around us safe.

 

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