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Casinos and nightclubs poised to reopen next week as B.C. heads towards next step of restart

VICTORIA -- British Columbians are just eight days away from the date pegged for Step 3 of the province's reopening plan, when most remaining restrictions will be lifted. On Tuesday, B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, indicated that the province looks to be on track for that to happen.

“We are progressing well,” Henry said.

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

Seventy-seven per cent of adults have had their first shot, and hospitalizations and case counts are down – all metrics pointing towards Step 3, set 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 pull a one-armed bandit or play poker 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 with the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns the casino.

“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,” said Keeling.

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

While it remains uncertain whether dancing will be allowed, and how full clubs can get, the operations manager for The Duke nightclub in Victoria says there is pent up demand, and it plans to reopen in early July.

“Two years of 19-year-olds that have never been to a club and are eager to get out there,” said manager Tanya Stone, 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.

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

As well, masks won’t be mandatory, only recommended in public indoor spaces.

The province announced Tuesday afternoon that it’s extending the B.C. State of Emergency for another two weeks, through July 6. The government also noted, however, that it would cancel that state of emergency early if vaccine rates continue to rise, and hospitalizations and case counts continue to drop. 

Source: Vancouver Island News