COVID-19 Update: Public Health Orders in B.C. Extended

Food businesses and event operators must comply with updated COVID-19 health and safety measures in British Columbia.
September 13, 2021

The province of British Columbia announced that new public health orders related to food businesses, gatherings and events are now effective until January 31, 2022. These updated public health orders come in as an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and the more contagious Delta variant.

The public health orders outline proof of vaccination requirements, capacity limitations and additional health and safety measures.

Proof of vaccination requirements

Starting today, September 13, individuals aged 12 years old and older must provide proof of vaccination to gain access to certain businesses, services and events. These businesses include restaurants, pubs, bars and organized gatherings and ticketed events such as concerts, weddings and conferences.

These businesses must confirm that a person has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by checking the person’s vaccine card and valid government ID. Starting October 24, individuals must provide proof that they have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Businesses must not permit individuals who cannot provide proof of vaccination to enter their premises.

Mask mandate

Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces by all people aged 12 years old and older. This mask mandate is applicable for grocery and liquor stores, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and bars when a person is not seated at a table.

A face shield is not considered a substitute for a mask because it has an opening below the mouth.

This order will be reassessed once the province’s proof of vaccination system is fully implemented.

Updated restrictions for food businesses

Food and liquor serving premises, which includes restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, lounges, nightclubs, tasting rooms with seating and private clubs must comply with the following public health order:

  • Based on the restrictions outlined and the business’ regular capacity limits, businesses must determine a maximum number of patrons allowed on premises.
  • Businesses must document this maximum capacity and monitor the number of patrons present to ensure the maximum is not exceeded.
  • Businesses must take steps to prevent patrons from gathering outside the premises, such as taking reservations or requesting patrons stay in their cars or elsewhere until notified that seating is available.
  • There must be sufficient seating for patrons who are consuming food or drink on the premises. They must be assigned a table, booth or counter and shown to their seats (excluding tasting rooms and private clubs).
  • Patrons must stay in their assigned seating except for when arriving or leaving the premises, using washroom facilities, using self-serve food or drinks stations and paying at a pay station.
  • Dance floors must be closed with physical barriers or occupied with tables unless they are being used for a dance performance. Patrons are not permitted to dance on the premises.
  • Businesses must ensure there are enough staff members to monitor and ensure patrons remain seated and do not gather in areas on the premises.
  • If there is a food or drink station, businesses must ensure hand washing facilities or alcohol-based hand sanitizers are within easy reach of the station, signs reminding patrons to wash or sanitize their hands before using the self-service stations are posted nearby and high touch surfaces at the stations, including self-serve utensils, are frequently cleaned and sanitized.

Updated restrictions for gatherings and events

Events operators and organizers must comply with the following public health order:

All Events

  • There must be an event organizer who must monitor the number of patrons present to ensure the event does not exceed capacity limits.
  • Access to the event must be controlled and there must be available seating for each person attending.
  • Seating must be arranged so that all available space is used.
  • Hand sanitation and toilet facilities with running water, soap and paper towels must be available for all participants.
  • If there is a food or drink station, organizers must ensure hand washing facilities or alcohol-based hand sanitizers are within easy reach of the station, signs reminding attendees to wash or sanitize their hands before using the self-service stations are posted nearby and high touch surfaces at the stations, including self-serve utensils, are frequently cleaned and sanitized.

Outdoor Events

  • There is a capacity limit of 5,000 people or 50% of the seated operating capacity of a venue, excluding event staff.

Indoor Events

  • There is a capacity limit of 50 people or 50% of the seated operating capacity of a venue, excluding event staff.
  • Each person attending must be assigned to a seat or a table.
  • Attendees must stay in their assigned seat unless they need to be served at a serving counter, use a self-serve food or drink station, get a take-away container, leave or return to the venue or use washroom facilities.
  • Dance floors must be closed with physical barriers or occupied with tables unless they are being used for a dance performance. Event attendees are not permitted to dance on the premises.
  • Organizers must ensure there are enough staff members to monitor and ensure attendees remain seated and do not gather in areas on the premises.

The Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS) monitors changes to COVID-19 health restrictions as they occur across Canada and will continue to provide updates as they develop.