Reopening Your Business

BC’s Restart Plan: What you need to know

The BC Restart Plan outlines the careful reopening of the economy in a four-phased approach. We are currently in Phase 1, during which “essential services” have been able to operate. 

If your business has been ordered to close by a provincial or regional health order you cannot open before the order is officially lifted. BC will enter into Phase 2 from mid-May onward, which allows industries including the retail sector, hair salons, art galleries, and restaurants and cafes (with sufficient distancing measures) to reopen, among others. At the bottom of this post we’ve listed which industries will be able to open during the different phases. 

Once you are able to reopen, businesses will be required to develop a COVID Safe Plan. Businesses that have operated as essential services during Phase 1 of the pandemic may need to update their COVID Safe Plans to fit with updated guidelines and best practices. WorkSafeBC won’t be reviewing or approving individual plans, but businesses could be subject to a WorkSafeBC inspection where employers will be asked about the steps they have taken to protect their workers. 

How to develop and communicate your COVID Safe Plan

Employers preparing to resume operations must develop plans to reopen safely, which includes assessing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace, and developing measures to reduce these risks.

A guide developed by WorkSafeBC is a starting point for developing your COVID Safe Plan. It covers the following steps:

  1. Assess the risk at your workplace
  2. Implement measures to reduce the risk e.g. cleaning and hygiene, maintaining physical distance
  3. Develop policies e.g. who can be at the workplace, how to addres illness that arises
  4. Develop communication plans and training
  5. Monitor your workplace and update your plans as needed
  6. Assess and address risks from resuming operations

In addition, WorkSafeBC is currently working with industry stakeholders to prepare industry-specific protocols that employers can use to help develop their individual plans.

Additional Resources

Good News for the Restaurant Sector

  • On May 13th the BC government announced B.C. restaurants will be able to purchase liquor at wholesale prices and get expedited provincial approval for expanded outdoor liquor service. This will help ensure restaurants that want to extend patios don’t face significant delays from the province.
  • Also on May 13th, the City of Vancouver Council passed a motion for “Flexible, Innovative & Expedited Patio Permitting” in order to help move dining outside when restaurants reopen. More information will be available soon.

The Phases of BC’s Restart Plan

Phase 1 enabled industries designated as “essential services” to operate including:

  • Essential health and health services
  • Law enforcement, public safety, first responders and emergency response personnel
  • Vulnerable population service providers
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Food and agriculture service providers
  • Transportation
  • Industry and manufacturing
  • Sanitation
  • Communications and information technology
  • Financial institutions
  • Other non-health essential service providers

BC will enter into Phase 2 from mid-May onward. During Phase 2 the following industries are allowed to carefully reopen: 

  • Restoration of health services
  • Re-scheduling of elective surgery
  • Dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy, and chiropractors
  • Physical therapy, speech therapy, and similar services
  • Retail sector
  • Hair salons, barbers, and other personal service establishments
  • In-person counselling
  • Restaurants, cafes, and pubs (with sufficient distancing measures)
  • Museums, art galleries, and libraries
  • Office-based worksites
  • Recreation and sports
  • Parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces
  • Child care

Phase 3 takes a staggered approach to reopening. The following industries are set to reopen during this time:

  • Hotels and Resorts (June 2020)
  • Parks – broader reopening, including some overnight camping (June 2020)
  • Film industry – beginning with domestic productions (June/July 2020)
  • Select entertainment – movies and symphony, but not large concerts (July 2020)
  • Post-secondary education – with mix of online and in-class (September 2020)
  • K-12 education – with only a partial return this school year (September 2020)

The timeline for British Columbia’s Phase 4 is currently unknown.

As directed by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, our province can only move to Phase 4 when one of the following conditions is met:

  • Widespread vaccination against COVID-19
  • “Community” immunity
  • Broad successful treatments

Activities/Industries Reopening under Phase 4

  • Conventions
  • Live audience professional sports
  • Concerts
  • International tourism