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B.C. eases COVID restrictions for restaurants, bars and nightclubs

A lot of Plexiglass will be going into storage now
Groups of more than six people will be able to dine at tables in B.C. restaurants starting Feb. 17, 2022, as the province's COVID-19 restrictions are eased | Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

As part of sweeping changes to the province's COVID-19 restrictions, as of 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 16, 2022, there will be only two key limits in place at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs across British Columbia. 

Changes to B.C.'s COVID-19 rules were announced Tuesday (Feb. 15) by Dr. Bonnie Henry, who outlined how we came to be at the stage we are now when it comes to community transmission of the virus, and which restrictions are able to be lifted. 

Starting at midnight on Feb. 17, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will be able to operate at full, unrestricted capacity.

The eased restrictions mean no table limits, thus bringing to an end again the cap at six guests per table. Additionally, mingling between tables will be allowed. Barriers, like the Plexiglass dividers we've grown accustomed to will no longer be necessary, however employees will still be following their own workplace safety plans. 

In one significant and long-awaited change, dancing will be allowed again. One of the longest-held COVID-19 restrictions in the province, dancing has been off-limits in places like nightclubs and bars since restrictions were first implemented in B.C. in March 2020.

However, some key restrictions remain in place province-wide that affect who can - and cannot - dine at all restaurants or dance the night away at a B.C. club. Face masks will still be mandatory when not seated, and the BC Vaccine Card will still be required to be scanned at the door showing proof of full vaccination, i.e. two doses of an approved COVID-19 shot. 

Dr. Henry said Tuesday that she will re-evaluate measures still in place and made any warranted amendments in mid-March, ahead of spring break, and again in mid-April, ahead of the Easter long weekend. 

The eased restrictions are welcomed by B.C. restaurant operators. 

"For independent restaurants especially, getting back to normal is just a huge step in the right direction and to saving people's livelihoods. Getting back to a sense of normalcy for society in general will help us all come together and feel like part of the community again," said Justin Tisdall, Co-owner of Juke Fried Chicken and Beetbox in Vancouver. 

"This is a fresh and welcome breath of air after yet another difficult period for our industry," said Darragh McFeely, Director of Operations of Nuba Group and Alimentaria Mexicana in Vancouver, of the return to near-normal operations at B.C. restaurants. "We're eager to get back to offering the fullest and most memorable experience to the people of Vancouver and beyond."

With no capacity limits or barriers, restaurants are keen to welcome back locals and tourists alike for a real taste of what their respective venues have to offer. 

"We are thrilled to hear residents and visitors are able to enjoy Vancouver’s incredible hospitality scene with fewer restrictions,” commented Sarah Valley, General Manager of OPUS Vancouver, and the home of restaurant and bar Capo & The Spritz. “We have all missed the energy it brings to our city and can’t wait to feel the pulse of Vancouver again.”

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