British Columbians visiting family and friends at hospitals and other health-care facilities will no longer have to show proof of vaccination to enter.
Public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the change, effectively immediately, on Thursday (April 6).
Henry also announced that visitors to long-term care homes will no longer have to undergo rapid antigen testing.
Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix lifted the order requiring all staff and visitors to wear masks at all times in health-care facilities, with the exeption of certain circumstances as a matter of practice to protect the health of patients and staff.
She warned that British Columbians could see masking requirements fluctate based on the seasonality of respiratory diseases.
As for the requirement that all health-care workers must be vaccinated: “I don’t see that lifting,” she said.
It is this requirement that has given government the confidence to lift various health orders and ministerial requirements, Henry added.
While the province has exited the “emergency phase” of the pandemic, it remains unclear when the pandemic will be considered over.
A combination of infection and vaccination rates has created a high level of what Henry called “hybrid immunity” against COVID-19. She warned about complacency, however.
Earlier this week, the province launched a campaign to boost vaccinations among older, vulnerable British Columbians. The latest round of boosters are available to non-Indigenous individuals 80 years and older and Indigenous individuals 70 and older. Seniors in long-term care will also be focus of the campaign .
Henry said she suspects British Columbians will receive access to another COVID-19 dose in the fall, similar to the flu shot.In fact, this shot may be a combined influenza and COVID-19 vaccine, she added. Another possibility could see British Columbians receive a “pan-corona” vaccination.
Cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus have severely levelled off from their respective peaks in late November and mid-January, with COVID-19 cases remaining steady at a low level, according to provincial data.