COVID-19 Reference Guide
In an effort to keep the public informed and help residents navigate to timely information, we have compiled a list of current public health orders and official government announcements. New information and updates will be highlighted daily.
Public Health Orders & Government Announcements
(Updated May 21 @ 8:00 a.m.)
- *NEW* Phase 2: Physical distancing - gathering in small groups of no more than six people is permitted, but continue to maintain physical distance between households
- No gatherings larger than 50 people
- Maintain 2-metre distance from others - even when in small gatherings
- Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings
- Stay home as much as possible; do not visit with friends and family
- Go outside for fresh air and exercise, but maintain distance from others
- Self-isolate if you are sick, even with symptoms other than COVID-19
- Violations of Public Health Orders can carry fines of over $25,000 or jail time
Official Information Sources
This is a regularly evolving situation, with changes on a day-by-day and even hour-by-hour basis. Thus, please take note of the following links so that you can stay up to date:
- Official BC Government COVID-19 Site
- Official BC Government News Releases: BC Government News Releases
- Daily update briefings with Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are live streamed on the BC Government Facebook Page.
- Official Twitter Accounts can often be the fastest way to get the latest information:
Official Health Information on COVID-19
Be cautious of information you read about the virus online. Stick with reputable sites such as:
Travel Advisories & Border Control
Travel advisories and border control directives are issued by the Government of Canada. Visit Travel Advisories to see the latest advice on travel.
On March 25, 2020, the federal government implemented a self-isolation plan for returning international travellers on select flights under the Quarantine Act. Maximum penalties for breaking self-isolation orders include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.
Effective April 8, 2020, all international travellers returning to B.C. are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days and complete a self-isolation plan. Self-isolation plans must be reviewed by provincial government officials before travellers can return home.
- COVID-19 Regional Town Hall - Island Health, April 21, 2020, 7:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
- Scheduled elective surgeries and procedures are being postponed
- Only essential visits allowed to Island Health facilities
- Parking at all health authority owned/operated health care sites is now free
- Choose virtual health care services whenever available, physicians will be compensated
- Self-assessment tool and support app
- Physician notes are NOT required for prescription refills by pharmacists
- Dentists should provide emergency services only
- MSP coverage wait times are waived for those who have been out of province and returned
- Island Health has activated a donations portal for residents who wish to donate products or services
- If you are looking for medical information about COVID-19 call 8-1-1
- If you are looking for non-medical information about COVID-19:
- Call 1-888-COVID-19
- Text 604-630-0300
- Online at BC CDC
- Pandemic Pay: COVID-19 Pandemic Pay provides eligible workers a lump-sum payment of ~$4/hr for a 16-weeks, starting on March 15. This boost is expected to benefit nearly 250,000 front-line workers providing critical public services to vulnerable populations where maintaining physical distancing is difficult or impossible in health, social services, and corrections.
- Employers cannot require a doctors notes or testing for people to stay home from work
- Workers may take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19, retroactive to Jan 27, 2020
- Workers now have three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury. This is a permanent change.
- One-week waiting period for Employment Insurance sickness benefits has been waived. Call 1-833-381-2725
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2000/month for four months to workers (including self-employed) who are not getting a paycheck due to COVID-19. *Replaces Emergency Support Benefit and Emergency Care Benefit announced last week
- Tax-free $1,000 payment (BC Emergency Benefit) to those whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19
- Boost to GST-credit to low-income individuals and families *Effective May 2020
- Boost to B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit *Effective July 2020
- Tax return filing due date deferred to June 1. Payments owed are deferred until after August 31
- Government of Canada support for the Canada Summer Jobs program
- Emergency supports for people on income assistance, disability assistance, and low-income seniors
- BC Emergency Workers’ Benefit provides a one-time additional tax-free payment of $1000 to those on EI or CERB in May. Applications open May 1. Apply online.
- Temporary lay-off period during COVID-19 has been extended to 16 weeks.
- Immediate halt on all evictions, except for extreme case involving safety concerns and court-ordered evictions
- Freeze on rental rates. No rent increases are allowed in BC *Effective April 1
- New rental supplement to provide up to $500/month towards rent, paid directly to landlords. Application instructions to come
- Landlords may now restrict use of common areas and restrict visitors to rental properties
- Landlords may not enter tenants’ homes without their expressed consent, unless there is a clear threat to people or property.
- BC Hydro customers can defer payments, access grants and receive three months of free credit to help pay their hydro bills. Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO
- Mortgage payment deferrals available for CMHC-insured loans. Check with your lender about payment deferral options
- One-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). New announcement, further details to come.
- Free Counselling Service for post-secondary students
- New BC income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services during COVID-19 pandemic
- Emergency supports for people on income assistance, disability assistance, and low-income seniors
- The Government of Canada has paused the repayment of Canada Student Loans until September 30, 2020, with no accrual of interest *Effective April 2020
- B.C. student loan payments are frozen for six months until September 30, 2020
- Reduction in minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)
- *NEW* Phase 2: Optional in-class instruction for K-12 students will begin June 1.
- Information and resources for essential workers looking for childcare
- All parents who can, should care for their children at home. This makes it easier for providers to follow enhanced preventative health measures.
- Childcare matching service available for essential service workers with kids 0-5. Call 1-888-338-6622 or register online
- Enhanced government funding is available for child care providers that stay open and that close.
- Boost to Canada Child Benefit payments to low-income families *Effective May 2020
- Eligible families will continue to receive the Affordable Child Care Benefit
- Community centres, playgrounds, and sports fields, tennis courts, etc... remain closed
- *NEW* Phase 2: Camping, group activities and events at all national parks, national historic sites, heritage canals and national marine conservation areas are suspended until at least May 31, 2020.
- *NEW* Phase 2: BC Parks have begun to reopen for day use only. Check online for the current status of your park before you go.
- *NEW* Phase 2: All campgrounds are closed. Camping will begin to reopen June 1, 2020, with some exceptions. Check BC Discover Camping and Parks Canada for site status.
- Restrictions on open burning activities in effect. Read more
- *NEW* Phase 2 re-opening: Restaurants, pubs, cafés may resume standing and seated service at reduced capacity, provided enhanced operating protocols to enable distancing orders are in place
- *NEW* Phase 2 re-opening: Personal service establishments (salons, spas, massage, tattoo parlours, etc.) may re-open with enhanced operating protocols in place.
- Do not use reusable bags or containers when shopping
- The resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning products and other essential supplies is prohibited
- Only food vendors are allowed at farmers markets or community markets. Online farmer’s markets opening soon
- BC Ferries: Only essential travel. Passengers may stay inside their vehicles the entire trip
- BC Transit: Rear door, fare-free boarding on all buses. Those with accessibility needs can still load at front
- ICBC customers on a monthly payment plan may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty
- Restaurants are open for pick-up/delivery service only
- Liquor distilleries are now permitted to produce alcohold-based sanitizer
- Read more: Essential Services List
The following remain:closed throughout BC:
- Liquor-primary establishments that do not serve meals (i.e. nightclubs)
- *NEW* Phase 2: All employers must have a Workplace COVID-19 Safety Plan. WorkSafeBC is available to support workplaces as they resume operations.
- What you must do if employees fall ill, are absent from work or your business is unexpectedly disrupted
- All businesses must adjust their operations to meet social distancing orders and should implement enhanced cleaning. Worksafe BC has resources to help guide what employers should do to ensure a healthy and safe workplace
- The Province of BC is feeding all info to guide and support small and medium size businesses through Small Business BC
- BC Arts Council support for the arts and culture sector
- BC Hydro bill deferral & payment plans available. Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO
- Wage subsidy for small businesses, non-profit organizations, and charities to prevent worker lay-offs
- New COVID-19 Supports for Businesses and Local Governments
- Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) for small and medium-sized businesses
- Federal income tax payments owed are deferred until after August 31
- Payment for the following BC business taxes are deferred until Sept 30: Employer health tax (EHT), provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, carbon tax.
- Scheduled April 1 increases to provincial carbon tax and PST are delayed
- 50% cut to the school tax for business and industry property classes, to be passed onto tenants on triple-net leases
- Vancouver Island Economic Alliance is hosting a special series of brief video conference events designed to provide ‘how to’ information for Vancouver Island businesses:
- BuyBC e-commerce funding provides grants of up to $5000 to help access and develop websites that accommodate online sales and helps cover the costs of marketing and shipping products to consumers throughout the province. Online applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, from May 15 to May 29, or when the funding is fully subscribed.
- B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program provides up to $5,000 in business planning services and coaching for individuals, and up to $20,000 for groups, from a qualified business consultant, to develop an immediate and long-term recovery plan. Apply Online.
- Farmers markets are designated as an essential food and agriculture service provider.
- All BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) markets currently operating in B.C. have put the following protocols in place to help ensure the health and safety of vendors, organizers and customers. Online farmers markets will also enable vendor-direct-to-consumer delivery at some markets.
- Increased credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
- Ag Safe BC has developed templates to assist agricultural employers in building their Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Program during COVID-19. Employers are encouraged to customize these documents to fit their individual operation’s needs when building or enhancing their OHS Program.
- Temporary Foreign Workers will be allowed under specific conditions to travel to Canada to support agricultural operations.
- The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has posted updated guidance to employers regarding the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, and should be used by employers and stakeholders to complement the Guidance to Employers previously shared.
- Expedited process for temporary foreign workers to start new jobs now in place.
- ICBC insurance renewals can now be done by phone or email
- ICBC has postponed road tests and all other assessments
- ICBC customers can defer monthly payments for up to 90 days
- Remote extensions for driver licensing available. All requests for medical information temporarily postponed. Call 1-800-950-1498
- BC Transit fares and passes are not required
- BC Transit: Rear door, fare-free boarding on all buses. Those with accessibility needs can still load at front. Service reductions in effect: Check online before you go. Ends May 31st.
- DriveBC travel restrictions for highways, rest areas and borders
- All commercial marine vessels with a capacity of more than 12 passengers are prohibited from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation. Ferries and essential passenger vessels must operate at 50% capacity at most
- BC Ferries is operating at reduced capacity and advises against non-essential travel
- BC Inland Ferries continue to operate, but avoid non-essential travel. Passengers are asked to stay in their cars during the sailing. Passengers with COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to board