Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan comes into effect on July 1, 2021.
With Step 3, employers will no longer be required to maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan and will instead begin to transition toward communicable disease prevention which includes COVID-19, but also includes seasonal influenza, norovirus, and others.
Many of the current, now familiar COVID-19 Safety Plan protocols are at the heart of Step 3 communicable disease prevention measures, including hand hygiene, good ventilation, maintaining clean premises, and encouraging employees who feel ill to stay home. It is recommended that COVID-19 protocols such as physical barriers between staff and the public be kept in place as long as business operations are not negatively affected. Employers should find the Provincial Health Officer Statement as well as the current version of the Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines helpful in this transition.
The Step 3 guidelines from the Provincial Public Health Officer (PHO) and WorkSafeBC apply to those in the health professions and the healthcare industry generally, as they do to other workplaces.
WorkSafeBC has developed a useful guide for employers to assist with the development of a communicable disease plan. It includes general measures to reduce the risk of communicable disease and additional measures for when there’s an elevated risk of communicable disease.
The risk of certain communicable diseases, including COVID-19, may increase from time to time on a seasonal basis, whether locally, regionally, or within a single workplace. In such cases, employers will be advised by medical health officers, or the provincial health officer of the measures needed to manage the risk.
Additional safety precautions are required in higher risk workplaces, including health care settings. Please pay attention to further guidance that will be available from PHO and WorkSafeBC. Employers are required to monitor for communicable disease-related information provided by regional public health officials and the provincial health officer in their area and industry, and to follow that guidance and direction should additional workplace measures be necessary.
In summary, the key points of the PHO guidance in Step 3 in the BC’s Restart 4-Step Plan are as follows:
- 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
- A person is 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
- If you or anyone in your family feel sick stay home and get tested immediately
Transition to Step 3 is a gradual process as COVID-19 vaccinations are still on-going and many BC residents are yet to be fully vaccinated. It’s important to stay flexible, monitor the data, and continue to learn throughout our restart together. When emergency restrictions are being lifted, each business can safely transition from COVID-19 Safety Plans to Communicable Disease Prevention Plans at their own pace.