A pedestrian wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 sprints across a street in Vancouver, on Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A pedestrian wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 sprints across a street in Vancouver, on Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. looking at easing restrictions for sports, religious services in the ‘coming weeks’

Outdoor gatherings with safety precautions could return

Restrictions that have seen British Columbians heavily limit their interactions for months could be loosened in the coming weeks, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In a press conference Monday (March 8) where she announced more than 1,400 new cases over the weekend, Henry said that with more and more vaccine approved and the immunization program ramping up, restrictions could be reconsidered in the spring.

“In the weeks ahead we can start to look at this modified return of some of the activities that have been on pause for the last months of winter,” she said.

“In the coming weeks we hope to see the return of sports and religious ceremonies.”

Henry said health provincials are working with religious leaders to bring back in-person worship, but warned that it will be a phased approach.

There are several religious holidays coming up, including Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi and Ramadan.

“How do we make sure that people can celebrate those things safely? And yes that’s our plan,” she said, but noted that B.C. is still in the middle of a pandemic.

“It may not be what Easter celebrations have been in the past, but they will be celebrations. Unless things go off the rails we are planning for them to be in person.”

Henry said that as the weather gets warmer, and people can spend more time outside, gatherings could return.

“What we are looking at, as we head into March break, spring break, at the end of this week and into this week is seeing the return of things like gatherings outside, where it’s safer, activities outside that we can do in groups with precautions in place,” Henry said.

“Small groups that we can do for games, summer camps, spring camps and safe small groups with masks and safety precautions in place.”

However, she warned that it is not yet time for large-scale events and gatherings.

“We will be in a much different place by the time we head into summer,” she said.

“[But] we’re not yet in a place where we can go back to our pre pandemic gatherings.”

Henry also said the province was looking at how safe travel within B.C. could return.

“The risk is different in different communities in this province and we need to be mindful of that.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday


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