Coronavirus update: May 26, 2021 - 2:00 p.m.

May 26, 2021

I hope this finds you staying safe and healthy as more and more people are rolling up their sleeves to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. I am highly recommending that everyone eligible in our community receive the vaccine.

As the vaccination roll-out continues, B.C. Premier John Horgan, Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix lifted the circuit-breaker on Tuesday that was in place for the last six weeks and outlined its four-phase restart plan that immediately went into effect with Step 1.

As more and more people get vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations steadily decline, the goal of the restart plan is to slowly and safely bring us all back together so we can eventually enjoy a meal together at a restaurant or gather with our friends and families, businesses can stay open and we can even hug one another again (if we’re comfortable with that behaviour.)

 And of course, so we can return safely to campus for the Fall semester in September. As of now, current recreational travel restrictions remain in place.

While I’m heartened by the latest news, I encourage everyone to follow all local, provincial, federal and international health and safety guidelines to ensure a safe return to campus in September and to ensure we reach each step of the restart plan. That includes mandatory masks and face coverings while in all indoor public spaces, physical distancing, and business safety protocols.

The four-step plan was designed based on data and guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Dr. Henry.

I realize that some of you may be anxious about an eventual return to campus, but please know we are here for you and there is support available to you.

In today’s update:

  • B.C.’s Restart Plan
  • Fall semester return to campus
  • Vaccinations

B.C.’s Restart Plan

The provincial restart plan is broken into four steps as the circuit-breaker restrictions are slowly lifted.

Step 1, effective Tuesday, May 25, is based on the assumption that 60 per cent of the adult population is vaccinated with Dose 1 and that both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are stable.

  • A maximum of five visitors or one household allowed for indoor personal gatherings and a maximum of 10 people are allowed for outdoor personal gatherings.
  • Maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols
  • Maximum of 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols
  • Resumption of outdoor sports (games) with no spectators, low-intensity fitness with safety protocols
  • Start gradual return to workplaces
  • Return of indoor in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health

Step 2 is temporarily slated for mid-June as more and more people are vaccinated and hospitalizations decline, consultation will begin for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Step 3 is temporarily slated for early July, while Step 4, with the prediction that more than 70 per cent of the population over the age of 12 will be vaccinated with Dose 2, will be slated to begin Sept. 7. The fourth step involves returning to normal social contacts, increased capacity at larger organized gatherings, no limits on indoor and outdoor spectators at sports and businesses operating with new safety plans.

Premier Horgan says the plan will be guided by data, not dates and progressing through the steps will be measured by the number of adults vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and deaths, taking into account clusters and outbreaks. The plan will not proceed to the next step until it is safe to do so based on guidance from public health and the latest available data.

Fall semester return to campus

We are continuing to plan for a safe return to campus in September and will keep the UNBC community updated with information once we have it. We are awaiting the provincial Go-Forward Guidelines which outline comprehensive health and safety protocols so we can safely resume campus operations in the fall. 

Based on the Return-to-Campus primer, phase 1 of UNBC’s planning will see a safe and supported gradual return of employees to on campus activities between 1st July and the fall semester as we prepare to meet our operational, service, research and instructional requirements. 

Completing a daily COVID-19 self-assessment and not attending campus when ill will still apply. Hand-washing and hygiene protocols as well as daily cleaning and sanitization protocols will also remain in place. Depending on the transmission rates of COVID-19 between now and September the wearing of non-medical masks may or may not be a requirement for indoor common spaces. It is up to each of us to do our part to help bring the transmission rate down so that such restrictions can be lifted.


Anyone who is 12-years-old and older (born in 2009 or earlier) can now register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

When you register, you’ll receive a confirmation number. Please keep it handy. However, don’t expect to able to book a vaccine appointment on the same day you register. You’ll receive a text, email or phone call when you’re eligible to book an appointment.

If you haven’t already done so, you can register at the Get Vaccinated BC website. Tell your friends. Spread the news.

Vaccines are a safe and effective way to fight against COVID-19 infections that can occur in people of any age.

We regularly update our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website with the latest information and resources. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for there, or if you have questions, let us know at

Stay safe, and thank you!

Geoff Payne
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)

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