COVID-19 Reference Guide
The guidelines and extra safety precautions for Phase 2 are still in place, including:
- 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
- COVID-19 BC Gov. Newsroom Updates
- Provincial Health Officer Orders, Notices & Guidance
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:
- Island Health COVID-19 restrictions page & Island Health News & Statements
- BC Centre for Disease Control COVID-19 page & BC Centre for Disease Control News & Stories
- Health Canada COVID-19 Information page
- World Health Organization COVID-19 Q&A & World Health Organization Rolling Updates
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. Enhanced quarantine compliance procedures in place for travellers entering the country.
- Scheduling for elective surgeries and procedures has restarted. Massive surgical renewal plan to clear COVID-19 backlog in the next 17-24 months in place.
- Only essential visits allowed to Island Health facilities
- 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 be providing emergency services only at this time. Services available from other regulated health care professionals (RMT, physiotherapy, chiropractic, etc) may also be limited at this time.
- MSP coverage wait times are waived for those who have been out of province and returned
- Safe prescription alternatives to the illegal drug supply available to people who use substances.
- Island Health has activated a donations portal for residents who wish to donate products or services
- 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. View Q&As here.
- Freeze on rental rates. No rent increases are allowed in BC *Effective April 1 View Q&As here.
- New rental supplement to provide up to $500/month towards rent, paid directly to landlords.
- 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
- Strata councils may meet virtually during COVID-19.
- 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
- CVRD Stage 1: playgrounds, dog parks, bike parks, skate parks, most washrooms in CVRD parks and trails for public use, sport courts (including tennis, pickleball and volleyball will be open for limited numbers of users, with signage in place to denote maximum participant numbers and other use requirements).
- CVRD Stage 1: outdoor recreation programming and field bookings will be reinstated where physical distancing can be maintained.
- *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
- Sale of non-food items may now resume at “farmers markets” or “community markets”. Food and drink vendors may not offer samples.
- 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)
- Casinos remain closed
- *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
- All ICBC knowledge tests available again by appointment.
- BC Transit: Rear door, fare-free boarding on all buses ends on May 31.
- 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 & BC Inland Ferries: Avoid all non-essential travel. Passengers with COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to board.