While British Columbia will gradually reduce COVID-19 restrictions over the next few months, physical distancing will continue.

Starting later this month, certain non-essential businesses and services will reopen to the public, including restaurants, medical offices, hair salons, childcare and libraries.

To maintain physical distancing, there will still be limits on the number of people that can be inside a business at a time.

Plus, people will now be allowed to gather in small groups of up to six people ­­– for instance, for a barbecue or a dinner party – as long as everyone maintains physical distancing and nobody is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19.

If COVID-19 infections in the province don’t increase, then businesses and activities including schools, hotels and movie theatres will be allowed to partially reopen between June and September.

The goal of BC’s plan is to allow about 60 percent of normal social and business interactions until a vaccine is developed.

Even with the more places reopening, requirements for physical distancing ­– which has also been called social distancing – haven’t changed.

To reduce the chances of spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) recommends that everyone continue to keep a physical distance of two metres from other people. That also means no hugging ­or shaking hands.

There can be exceptions for people who live in the same house or who already see each other regularly, as long as nobody has symptoms or has come into contact with anyone with COVID-19.

BCCDC also recommends frequent handwashing. If you get the virus on your hands and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, you could get infected.

Anyone in BC who thinks they might be sick with COVID-19 should use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if they should be tested.