COVID-19 update for May 26: Businesses react to restart plan | 289 new cases, one death

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for May 24, 2021.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on May 25:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 142,636 (3,782 active cases)
• New cases since May 24: 289
• Total deaths: 1,680 (1 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 301
• Intensive care: 93
• Total vaccinations: 2,927,487 doses administered; 148,580 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 137,062
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 6

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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021

COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS ON COVID-19 IN B.C.

3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.

5 a.m. – Businesses on both sides of the B.C.-Alberta border anxious to welcome back tourists

British Columbia’s provincial government announced Tuesday that some COVID-19 restrictions are being eased as part of a four-step reopening plan, but it will be at least mid-June before restrictions preventing non-essential travel will be lifted.

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The reopening plan started Tuesday with relaxations on gatherings, sports events and dining, both indoors and outdoors.

The earliest travel restrictions could be lifted is June 15, with recreational travel permitted only within residents’ regions.

Travel is limited within areas covered by the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities; the Northern and Interior health authorities; and Vancouver Island. Residents are asked to stay in their regions or risk a $575 fine if they don’t have a valid reason for travel.

In many of the province’s mountain resort towns, the past year has been incredibly challenging — first having to cope with the lack of international visits, then interprovincial guests and, now, visitors from across the province.

In Radium, Alpen Motel staff said the ongoing restrictions mean they have essentially no guests and haven’t for a while. At the Radium Park Lodge, where around 75 per cent of the summer clientele is from Alberta, Brian Liu said the announcement presents a concern for business but that health is their priority.

“We still have subsidies from the government and we can rebuild the economy, but we cannot replace lives,” he said. “So if it’s three more weeks, we’ve already given up our business in the past year, so I think we can wait another three weeks.”

On the Alberta side of the Rockies, Banff tourism has also taken a considerable hit. Now, with another three weeks with no visitors from B.C., it’s a growing concern.

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Leslie Bruce, CEO of Banff and Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT), said though it’s disappointing to hear about the extended travel restrictions in B.C., the organization and its industry partners are ready for when the relaxations come.

“It will be a big challenge for us,” Bruce said.

“Usually, the May long weekend is the kickoff to summer and so you see people typically having these short mini-getaways and gearing up. But also very importantly, Canadians have generally made their travel plans by (now) and so with these further extensions and restrictions, it puts a lot more uncertainty in the mix when it comes to people planning their vacations.”

She said they were hoping to have more optimism than at this time last year, but ever-changing restrictions means the tourism industry across the region is in jeopardy this summer.

5 a.m. – Five things B.C. resident can and can’t do under Step 1 of B.C.’s restart plan

1. You CAN’T go visit your friends and family in another health region — not yet anyway

Although many believed travel restrictions would be lifted Tuesday between the health regions, B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has extended the ban, and recreational travel continues to only be allowed only within your region.

The circuit breaker restriction on non-essential travel between three regions in B.C. was brought in April 30 under the Emergency Program Act. The three regions are Vancouver Island, Fraser and Coastal Health together as one region, and Interior and Northern Health together as the third.

Travel restrictions are expected to be lifted mid-June in Phase 2 of the four-part plan. However health officials said this will depend on data not dates.

2. You CAN eat indoors at restaurants and bars

Indoor and outdoor dining will now be allowed for up to six people a table with safety protocols. Liquor restrictions until 10 p.m. will remain in place but are expected to be lifted in Phase 3 in July.

3. You CAN’T throw parties or large social gatherings

The ban on social gatherings indoors has loosed a bit, to  maximum of five visitors from a complete ban, but you still can’t have large gatherings like parties and weddings.

You can have a maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols and 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols.

Indoor religious gatherings will be allowed but at a reduced capacity based on consultation with public health officials.

Outdoor gatherings remains the same, up to 10 people with social distancing protocols.

4. You CAN play outdoor sports

As of Tuesday, sports teams can resume outdoor games — but with no spectators — and low-intensity group fitness with safety protocols.

High-intensity exercise and spectators (up to 50) will likely be allowed under Phase 2 in mid-June.

5. You CAN start to gradually bring employees back to the workplace

Companies can start a gradual return to workplace, however health officials stressed that safety protocols must be in place and it should be a slow process, for example working only one or two days a week in the office.

12 a.m. – B.C. reports 289 cases, one additional death

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B.C. health officials reported 289 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, marking the second straight day — and only the second time in 2021 — that the province has posted a daily case count under 300.

While cases are dwindling, vaccination numbers continue to rise in B.C.

The province has now delivered 2,927,487 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to adults 18 and over, including 148,580 second doses. Nearly 65 per cent of all B.C. adults — or almost 60 per cent of those 12 and older — have received at least one dose of vaccine.

“As cases continue to decline and immunizations steadily rise, we are moving forward with purpose, monitoring our progress to ensure we remain on track,” B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Ministry Adrian Dix said in joint statement.

12 a.m.  – Travel ban extended, indoor dining allowed under first step of four-part plan

British Columbians will not be allowed to travel recreationally within the province yet, but they can resume sports games and eat indoors in a restaurant under a four-part plan to gradually lift COVID-19 health restrictions, the B.C. government announced Tuesday.

Under the first step, which begins today, the non-essential travel ban between the three health regions will continue. As long as the case numbers continue to drop while vaccination rates go up, health officials say those restrictions will be lifted in the second step starting mid-June.

Health officials stressed that the re-opening steps will be subject to COVID-19 data and not just dates.

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Under Step 1, sports teams, which have been restricted to drills and training, can now resume outdoor games and folks can eat indoors in bars and restaurants in groups of six.

However, they will will have to wait until mid-June to go to the movies or watch live theatre.

And while residents still can’t throw large parties, health officials are now allowing five visitors indoors for personal gatherings and a maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols.

There will be indoor religious services allowed in Step 1 but with a limited capacity to be determined. And a gradual return to the workplace can begin.

Health officials are predicting a return to normal social activities by the fourth step in September.


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

– With files from The Canadian Press

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