Province-wide COVID-19 Restrictions - January 7, 2021

Notice Date

By order and direction of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), all events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions and travel. 

Last updated: January 7, 2021

PHO order on province-wide restrictions

By order and direction of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), all events and social gatherings are suspended to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions and travel. 

The order is in effect from November 19, 2020 at midnight to February 5, 2021 at midnight. 

Events and social gatherings

In-person events and community-based gatherings as defined in the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF) are suspended. For example:

  • Activities, including indoor and outdoor events (with the exception of drive-in and drop-off events)
  • Musical or theatre performances 
  • Galas
  • Silent auctions
  • Movie viewings in cinemas

Event exemptions by sector 

The following sectors have exemptions from the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF).

Drive-in and drop-off events

Drive-in events

Drive-in events may proceed with a limited number of people. Drive-in events can have a maximum of 50 cars in attendance. People must stay in their cars. Drive-in events must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

Examples of drive-in events:

  • Religious services

Drop-off events

Drop-off events may proceed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

Examples of drop-off events:

  • Fundraisers
  • Toy drives

All drive-in and drop-off events must:

  • Maintain physical distancing 
  • Control the entry and exit points
  • Avoid congestion of cars and congregating of people

Funerals, weddings and baptisms

Funerals, weddings and baptisms may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 10 people attend, including the officiant. 

Receptions associated with funerals, weddings or baptisms are not allowed at any location, that includes:

  • Inside or outside homes
  • Any public or community-based venues

Formal meetings

The order restricts most formal in-person meetings outside the workplace, with some exceptions including:

  • The B.C. legislature and cabinet meetings
  • City council meetings. It is recommended virtual meeting be held as much as possible. The public is not allowed to attend
  • Support groups like Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous
  • Critical service meetings

Meals for people in need

Meals for people in need may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 50 people in attendance. This includes:

  • Soup kitchens
  • Meals at shelters
  • Charities offering meals

Pre-packaged meals are the best option to limit gatherings inside a dining area.

Rental and home sale viewings

Rental and home viewings are already restricted to a maximum of six people, if space allows. People hosting viewings must use layers of protection, like masks and support virtual viewing options as much as possible.

Religious gatherings and worship services

Religious in-person gatherings and worship services are suspended under the order. For example:

  • Do not attend a service at a church, synagogue, mosque, gurdwara, temple, or other places of worship

Religious services can continue using remote or virtual attendance options, like Zoom or Skype.

You can still visit your place of worship for individual activities such as  contemplation or personal prayer.


Employers must review and redouble their efforts on their COVID-19 Safety Plan, remind employees to monitor themselves daily and to always stay home if they have symptoms.

Employers must make every effort to provide work from home options.  

Daily health check

A daily health check should already be included in every business’s existing COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Social gatherings

No social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or core bubble. For example:

  • Do not invite friends or extended family to your household 
  • Do not host gathering outdoors
  • Do not gather in your backyard
  • Do not have playdates for children

Core bubble

For most people, their core bubble is their immediate household. An immediate household is a group of people who live in the same dwelling. For example:

  • If you have a rental suite in your home, the suite is a separate household
  • If you live in an apartment or house with roommates, you are all members of the same household

For others, including people who live alone, their core bubble may also contain a partner, relative, friend or co-parent who lives in a different household. This should be a maximum of two people outside of those living in your immediate household.

Co-parenting and supporting isolated family members

People who live alone

University students

Allowed activities

These activities are not considered a social gathering:

  • Going for a walk. You must make sure a walk does not turn into a group of people meeting outside
  • Parents carpooling kids to and from school
  • Grandparents providing child care
  • Public pools and public skating rinks, when not associated with an event, are allowed to continue to operate with a COVID-19 Safety Plan

Retail and vending markets

By order of the PHO, retail businesses are required to:

  • Establish capacity limits based on 5 square metres of unencumbered space per person
  • Post occupancy limits
  • Where practical, post directional signs to keep people moving in the same direction and not congregating
  • Review the PHO Order – Gatherings and Events (PDF)

Restaurants, pubs and bars

You must wear a mask when not at a table. Events are no longer allowed. 

Restaurants, pubs and bars can continue to operate if they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and employee protocols in place. 

  • Remember, a maximum of six people at a table and no moving between tables

WorkSafeBC will be conducting inspections to verify that COVID-19 Safety Plans remain effective. Establishments that are noncompliant with plan requirements may face orders and fines, and possible referral to public health which may result in a closure order.

Fitness centres, studios, exercise and gyms

By order of the PHO, restrictions are in place for indoor group exercise. These temporary restrictions are in place to limit the amount of physical and social interactions and travel to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

High intensity group exercise

Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate high intensity group exercise must suspend the following activities:

  • Hot yoga
  • Spin classes 
  • Aerobics 
  • Bootcamp
  • High intensity aspects of circuit training
  • High intensity interval training (HIIT)

High intensity group exercise causes a sustained and accelerated rate of breathing and may involve close contact with other people. 

Low intensity group exercise

Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate low intensity group fitness activities may resume activities providing they follow the guidelines. 

An updated COVID-19 Safety Plan using the guidelines should be posted clearly at the facility for everyone to follow. Health authority approval to re-open is not required but safety inspections continue regularly. Low intensity group exercise does not cause a sustained and accelerated rate of breathing and does not involve close contact with other people. These include:

  • Yoga (Hatha)
  • Low intensity exercise machines and cardio equipment
  • Pilates 
  • Light weightlifting
  • Stretching
  • Tai-Chi
  • Low intensity Barre classes

Businesses who close due to COVID-19 restrictions could be eligible to receive rent support of up to 90 percent.

Gyms and recreation facilities

Gyms and recreation facilities that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that is strictly followed. 

Sports and extracurricular activities

By order of the PHO, restrictions are in place for adult and youth indoor and outdoor team sports. These temporary restrictions are in place to limit the amount of physical and social interactions and travel to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Adult indoor and outdoor team sports

Indoor and outdoor team sports for people 22 years of age and older are suspended. These include:

  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading
  • Combat sports
  • Floor hockey
  • Floor ringette
  • Road hockey
  • Ice hockey
  • Ringette 
  • Martial arts
  • Netball
  • Team skating
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Indoor bowling
  • Lawn bowling
  • Curling
  • Lacrosse
  • Hockey
  • Ultimate
  • Rugby 
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Softball

While restrictions are currently in place related to adult team sports, some indoor and outdoor sports and activities are permitted with a reduced number of participants:

  • Two people may engage in indoor sports with one another
  • Four people may engage in outdoor sports with one another

In both cases, participants must maintain a distance of 3 metres from one another unless everyone lives in the same private residence.

Youth indoor and outdoor team sports

All organized indoor and outdoor sports for people 21 years of age and younger must follow viaSport's Return to Sport Phase 2 guidance with respect to maintaining physical distance for participants. This means games, tournaments and competitions are temporarily suspended for teams.

  • Individual drills and modified training activities can continue
  • Amateur sports organizations and leagues may implement additional guidelines to ensure the health and safety of participants

All indoor and outdoor team sports for people 22 years of age and older are suspended.


Under the order, no spectators are allowed at any sport activities. The only people allowed to attend sport activities are those that provide care to a participant or player. For example, providing first aid. 

Travel for sport

Travel to, from and between communities for athletic activities like games, competitions, training and practice is prohibited. However, athletes can travel to their home club if their home club is outside of their immediate community. For example:

  • A figure skater who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region but trains at their home club in Burnaby
  • A soccer player who lives in the Fraser Health region but trains at their home club in Vancouver

Sport exemptions

High Performance athletes are now excluded from the adult sport prohibition, so they can travel and train together, and compete, but must still follow COVID-19 safety plans.

To qualify as a high-performance athlete, you must be:

  • Identified by the Canadian Sports Institute Pacific as a high-performance athlete affiliated with an accredited provincial or national sports organization
  • Continuing to follow the safety guidelines of your provincial sports organization

Youth extracurricular activities

Structured extracurricular activities and programs for people 21 years of age and younger can continue to operate with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place and must be supervised by an adult. These include:

  • Educational programs
  • Music
  • Art 
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Outdoor exercise
  • Recreational programs

Under the order, performances, recitals and demonstrations are not allowed. 

Mask requirements in public indoor settings

As outlined in the mask mandate order, masks are required for everyone in many public indoor settings. A face shield is not a substitute for a mask as it has an opening below the mouth.

There are exemptions for:

  • People with health conditions or with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who cannot wear one
  • People who cannot remove a mask on their own
  • Children under the age of 12

Masks are required in many indoor public settings and all retail stores. This includes:

  • Malls, shopping centres
  • Grocery stores
  • Airports
  • Coffee shops
  • On public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle
  • Places of worship
  • Libraries
  • Common areas of post-secondary institutions, office buildings, court houses, hospitals and hotels
  • Clothing stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Drug stores
  • Community centres
  • Recreation centres
  • City Halls
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars when not seated at a table
  • Sport or fitness facilities when not working out

Mask enforcement

You are subject to a $230 fine if you:

  • Do not wear a mask in an indoor public setting, unless you are exempt
  • Refuse to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space
  • Engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour

Masks at workplaces and shared living areas

It is strongly recommended that masks be worn in the following areas:

  • Common areas in apartment buildings and condos, including:
    • Elevators
    • Hallways
    • Lobbies
    • Stairwells
  • Shared indoor workplace spaces, including:
    • Elevators
    • Kitchens
    • Hallways
    • Break rooms

Travel advisory

At this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province. For example:

  • Do not travel for a vacation
  • Do not travel to visit friends or family outside of your household or core bubble

What is essential travel?

Individual circumstances may affect whether a trip is considered essential or non-essential. Essential travel within B.C. includes:

  • Regular travel for work within your region
  • Travel for things like medical appointments and hospital visits

For example, if you live in Vancouver and work in Surrey you can continue to commute. 

If you need to travel for essential reasons, take the same health and safety precautions you do at home.

  • Wash your hands often
  • Practice safe distancing, 2 m
  • Travel only with yourself, household or pandemic bubble
  • Stick to the outdoors whenever possible
  • Clean spaces often
  • Wear a mask in indoor spaces

First Nations communities

Many First Nations have declared a state of emergency for their communities and enacted COVID-19 community protection by-laws including travel bans for non-residents and non-essential visitors. It is important to respect these restrictions in addition to the province-wide travel advisory. 

Travel for mountain sports

Ski and snowboard at your local mountains. For example, if you live in Vancouver, you should ski at Cypress, Grouse or Mt. Seymour. 

Coming from outside of B.C.

At this time, people travelling to B.C. from another province or territory within Canada should only come for essential reasons. If you do travel, you are expected to follow the same travel guidelines as everyone else in B.C.

International travellers returning to B.C. are required by law to self-quarantine for 14 days and complete the federal ArriveCAN application.

  • All air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine
  • Review federal testing requirements for air travellers

The restriction of all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border remains in effect.

Flights to and from B.C.

The order does not restrict flights entering and leaving B.C.


During a public health emergency under the Public Health Act, the PHO can make orders as needed. You must follow the orders. 

Under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, some orders can be enforced by police or other compliance and enforcement officials. People who don't follow these orders could be fined.