COVID Resources for Businesses
As of July 1, 2021, BC has implemented Step 3 of the BC Restart Plan.
The criteria for moving to Step 3 is at least 70% of the 18+ population vaccinated with dose 1, along with low case counts and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations. In Step 3, all sectors will transition to using communicable disease prevention guidance from WorkSafeBC.
Masks are recommended in public indoor settings for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated. The mask mandate order under the Emergency Program Act will be lifted July 1 and no proof of vaccination will be needed.
- You’re fully vaccinated 14 days after dose 2
- Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask after they’re fully vaccinated and that’s okay
- Increased social contact
- If you or anyone in your family feels sick stay home and get tested immediately
New Activities Permitted as of July 1st
- Return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings
- Indoor organized gatherings 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater
- Outdoor organized gatherings 5,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater
- No capacity limits or restrictions on religious gatherings and worship services
- Fairs, festivals and trade shows return to normal with a Communicable Disease Plan
- Canada-wide recreational travel is permitted
- Restaurants, bars and pubs
- No group limits for indoor and outdoor dining, events allowed
- Return to normal liquor service hours
- No socializing between tables
- Up to 10 people seated at tables, tables 2 m apart
- No dancing, no socializing between tables
- Reduced capacity
- Gaming stations can operate at approximately 50% capacity
Businesses will transition from a COVID-19 Safety Plan to a Communicable Disease Plan. Some safety measures will remain, like physical barriers.
Offices and workplaces
- Continued return to the workplace
- Seminars and bigger meetings allowed
Workplaces will transition from a COVID-19 Safety Plan to a Communicable Disease Plan.
Additional safety precautions required in higher-risk workplaces.
Sports and exercise
- All indoor fitness classes allowed, normal capacity
- Gyms and recreation facilities, normal capacity
- Outdoor spectators 5,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater
- Indoor spectators 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater
Preparing for Step 3 of BC’s Restart
On June 17, the provincial health officer issued a statement to employers on transitioning from COVID-19 Safety Plans to communicable disease prevention.
Prior to Step 3 of the Restart plan, the expectation is that employers will continue to maintain and review their COVID-19 Safety Plans. Beginning with Step 3, employers will no longer be required to maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and will instead transition to communicable disease prevention.
- From COVID-19 Safety Plans to communicable disease prevention
- Responding to elevated risk
- Additional measures
- Questions or concerns
Communicable disease prevention: A guide for employers
This guide provides information for employers to develop a communicable disease plan. An effective plan includes general measures to reduce the risk of communicable disease and additional measures for when there’s an elevated risk of communicable disease. It is not meant for employers who have an existing exposure control plan related to communicable disease, such as health care employers.
Requesting Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination From Customers
Business owners throughout the Province are excited at the prospect of their operations returning to normal over the coming weeks and months. However, they are also keenly aware of the need to manage the transition in a manner that reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with increased customer contact.
Obviously, one of the keys to managing this risk is COVID-19 vaccination in our communities.
This leaves many businesses wondering how to manage contact with customers who may be unable or unwilling to be vaccinated. A common question is whether a business can lawfully request proof of vaccination from customers and, if so, whether they may refuse service to those who do not confirm that they have been vaccinated.
ABLE BC Associate Member and Employment Lawyer Ryan Anderson and his firm (Mathews, Dinsdale & Clarke LLP) offer some guidance, as follows.
Can We Ask Customers To Confirm Their Vaccination Status?
The short answer is, yes, but only if the applicable human rights and privacy-related obligations are carefully considered and adhered to.
Human Rights Obligations
Businesses in B.C. generally have the right to refuse service to customers, but in some circumstances this right is limited by provincial human rights legislation.
In B.C., the Human Rights Code (the “Code”) prohibits the refusal of services or facilities customarily available to the public where that refusal is based on certain “protected grounds”. Protected grounds include disability and religion.
Since a refusal to receive a vaccine may be validly based on a protected ground – i.e. for reasons associated with a disability or one’s religion – a policy that treats non-vaccinated individuals differently by refusing to provide them goods or services could be considered unlawful discrimination. Businesses considering such policies should be aware of their duty to accommodate customers who have remained unvaccinated for reasons protected under the Code.
To address this concern, businesses should carefully consider whether customers who indicate they have not been vaccinated could be provided access to the goods or services they are seeking in other ways. A refusal to consider any form of accommodation – i.e., a total denial of service – will only be justifiable if the business can establish that there is no reasonable accommodation available without imposing an undue hardship on the business.