The date set for Step 3 of the province’s reopening plan, when the majority of remaining restrictions will be eliminated, is just eight days away. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s top doctor, said on Tuesday that the province appears to be on track to achieve that goal.

Henry said that “We are progressing well. This gives us a strong foundation for our summer of hope, a summer of healing,” noting one million British Columbians have now been fully vaccinated.

Seventy-seven percent of people have had their first shot, and hospitalizations and case counts are on the decrease — all indicators pointing to Step 3, which is expected to begin on July 1 at the earliest.

When Step 3 begins, casinos will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity, and you’ll be able to play poker or one-armed bandit in View Royal’s Elements Casino, which is tentatively planning to open next week for the first time since the pandemic hit, according to Chuck Keeling of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns the casino.

Keeling said that “We’ve called back close to 200 employees to get ready for July 1, after having been closed for almost 16 months, so we’re really eager, really anxious, fingers crossed.” 

Nightclubs – also shuttered since March 2020 – are also allowed to open in Step 3.

While it’s unclear whether dancing will be permitted or how crowded clubs will get, The Duke nightclub in Victoria’s operations manager says there’s been a surge in demand, and the club hopes to reopen in early July.

Manager Tanya Stone said that “Two years of 19-year-olds that have never been to a club and are eager to get out there,” noting she’s also heard from friends in their late 30’s who thought their clubbing days were behind them, but now have a renewed interest in going out for drinks and dancing.

The next step in B.C.’s reopening will harken the return of Canada-wide travel, in addition to nightclubs and casinos. It would also allow people to host as many people as they like inside or outside their homes, and there will be no limits at tables in restaurants, pubs, or bars.

Masks will not be required, but will be recommended in public indoor spaces.

The province announced Tuesday afternoon that the B.C. State of Emergency will be extended for another two weeks, until July 6. However, the government stated that if vaccine rates continue to rise and hospitalizations and case numbers continue to decline, the state of emergency would be lifted sooner.