How to Stay Safe as Our Province Reopens

How to Stay Safe as Our Province Reopens | Dr. Ali Ghahary

While COVID-19 should still be considered a risk in all of our communities, many provinces in Canada, including right here in British Columbia, have slowly begun their restart plans. While each phase of the restart plans will vary from province to province, British Columbia is currently in phase 2 which consists of the following:

• Restoration of health services including the re-scheduling of previously cancelled elective surgeries; in addition to the restoration of other medical-related services such as dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy, chiropractors, physical therapy, and speech therapy.
• Retail sector.
• Personal service establishments such as hair salons and barbers.
• In-person counselling.
• Restaurants, cafes and pubs.
• Museums, art galleries and libraries.
• Office-based worksites.
• Recreation and sports.
• Parks, beaches and outdoor spaces.
• Child care.

That being said, all of these re-openings need to come with enhanced protocols, such as physical distancing (keeping at least 2 metres apart from others at all times whenever possible, or, when that isn’t possible, by wearing a face mask. There are also some specific measures that each of us can take to not only protect our own health, but the health of those around us including friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers.

IN SOCIAL SETTINGS:

While gatherings are limited to no greater than 50 people, keep in mind that this does not mean that you should immediately hold or attend a gathering this large, as it can be difficult to physically distance in groups of this size – thus increasing your risk for the spread or development of COVID-19. Instead, you should choose a small social circle, and stick to that same circle of friends/family, while also ensuring you’re practicing physical distancing at the same time, as it’s still possible for the virus to spread from person to person (even in those who are asymptomatic) – and, of course, if you do happen to be sick, you should isolate yourself from others.

AT THE WORKPLACE:

Most non-essential businesses closed down during the pandemic, while some businesses also allowed (and continue to allow) their employees to work from home. For businesses that are once again fully staffed and open to the public, WorkSafe BC guidelines need to be followed, which should include having a COVID-19 safety plan posted for both employees and customers, in addition to placing barriers to protect staff from public, keeping employees desks at least 2 metres apart, having set occupancy limits, and promoting and practicing good hygiene and disinfecting.

IN PUBLIC:

Essential services, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic; while things like parks, gyms and restaurants closed down. As our province slowly works towards phase 3 of its restart plan (which is expected to happen sometime between now and September), we’ll start to see more things open up, such as hotels/resorts, broader openings of parks (including overnight camping), as well as select entertainment venues (such as movie theatres) – but again, certain enhanced protocols must be in place. At hair salons, for example, you will be required to wear a mask for the duration of your appointment; while at restaurants, you will be required to provide your contact information to assist with contact tracing. This is done in attempt to identify individuals who may have come in contact with an infected individual as well as show where the virus started and how widely it has spread. Many restaurants and other public places will also be operating at reduced capacity by limiting the amount of people they allow inside their place of business.

To learn more about each phase of British Columbia’s restart plan, visit http://gov.bc.ca/restartbc