Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that BC’s Gathering and Events Order will be extended. The gathering and events provisions were due to expire on January 8 and will now expire at midnight on February 5.
The original order made November 7 and revised November 21, prohibited events (including films, performances, benefits, religious services, adult group indoor sport, high intensity exercise) and gatherings beyond those with members of one’s own household across B.C. Work and other essential meetings are still permitted but must operate under appropriate COVID-19 Safety Plans or COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plans. Travel for sport is also specifically not allowed (except for high-performance athletes). Non-essential travel is highly discouraged. Travel for work is considered essential but British Columbians are encouraged to work from home wherever possible.
The Order had been amended effective December 24, 2020 (and published on the B.C. government’s website on December 29, 2020), to include restrictions on retailers (see section “L” on pages 20 and 21 of the order) limiting retailers. The order requires that retailers must:
- Limit the capacity in their store to one person per five square metres of “unencumbered space” in “the part of the place to which the public has access”.
- Document the occupancy limit in their COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan.
- Ensure the capacity does not exceed the occupancy limit.
- Where practical, take measures that customers maintain two metre distance, such as two metre distance indicators or signs, to guide customers waiting in line, or for any other purpose.
- Where practical, clearly mark entrances and exits, and use one-way signage or arrows on the floor to guide patrons in moving in one direction.
- Where practical, post or erect signs advising customers to move in one direction, keep moving, and avoid congestion at the end of aisles; and make hand sanitizer options readily available for customers.
The retail provisions are in effect indefinitely. Failing to comply with the Public Health Order could result in a $2,300 per instance fine (and/or WorkSafeBC orders) for businesses, hosts or organizers, $230 for customers or attendees per incident. Courts can impose fines up to $10,000 and/or one-year imprisonment for egregious offences.