BC Premier John Horgan announced the province will proceed with Step 3 of the BC Restart Plan on July 1, 2021:
- The Provincial Health Officer’s Order on Workplace Safety will be removed removing many restrictions
- The Minister of Public Safety’s Order requiring masks in ‘indoor public spaces’ will be replaced with a recommendation to wear masks
- The Provincial Health Officer’s Gathering Order will be amended to remove retail occupancy limit.
The Order on Workplace Safety provided for COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plans (mandatory), which will be replaced with ‘communicable disease prevention plans’ (optional, but included in WorkSafeBC guidance). The province notes that this transition need not be immediate, and the timing of removal of the plan is also at the employer’s discretion. This means that restrictions are removed requiring: (a) a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and the posting of the plan; (b) health checks, e.g., screening of employees and customers; (c) provisions requiring employees to wear masks; and, (d) physical distancing measures.
The Minister of Public Safety’s Order enabled law enforcement to fine persons who did not wear a mask in ‘indoor public spaces’ (including retail stores). The repeal means that mask requirements are within an employer’s discretion. BC public health authorities continue to recommend that masks be worn in indoor settings such as retail stores.
The Gathering Order will be amended to remove Retail-industry specific provisions (in Section I) that limited capacity to 1 person for every 5 square metres of open retail floor space. The order also required physical distancing measures such as arrows on floors. These measures become discretionary. The Provincial Health Officer recommends that plexiglass barriers remain at this time.
The end of the Provincial State of Emergency means that many provisions of COVID-19 life will end in the coming 3 months. For retail, this most notably includes a provision that suspends local government road-use and noise bylaws to facilitate the movement of goods.
New WorkSafeBC guidance for all employers on ‘communicable disease prevention plans’ was posted on June 28, 2021.