Update Regarding December 21 Public Health Orders and the Omicron Variant


On December 21 the Province of BC announced new public health orders. The BC Museums Association would like to highlight the following orders that most impact museums:

A full list of PHOs can be found here.

As of December 22, 2021

  • Indoor events at venues can only have 50% capacity, no matter the size. This includes events like concerts, sports or movies.
    • All spectators must be seated at:
      • Sports events, concerts, theatre, dance and symphony performances
      • Lectures, presentations and workshops
      • Sponsored and ticketed events
  • Restaurants, cafes and pubs can have a maximum of 6 people at each table.
  • Fairs, festivals and trade shows can return to normal operations with a communicable disease plan.
  • A workplace that has workers testing positive for COVID-19 and public health confirming transmission has occurred in the work environment may be ordered to close for a minimum of 10 days (refer to this PDF on workplace closures).

In addition to the PHOs, the Province recommends the following additional precautions:

  • Keep gatherings small and only with those you know are fully vaccinated
  • Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor
  • Reduce social interactions
  • Ensure proper ventilation indoors by opening windows
  • Avoid all travel if you’re not fully vaccinated
  • Follow the current federal travel advisory
  • Stay home if you feel sick

A Note on the Omicron Variant

Due to the higher rate of transmission of the Omicron variant, we encourage members to reflect on their current safety protocols and review current best practices and safety recommendations. 

N95/KN95 Masks

Increasingly, experts are recommending shifting away from cloth masks to masks that provide a higher standard of protection, like N95 or KN95 masks. This category of mask can provide better protection due to a more secure fit, greater standardization of material, and when used correctly, can filter up to 95% of particulate matter.

Due to increased demand for N95 masks and numerous counterfeits being sold online, it can be challenging to purchase N95 or KN95 masks at this moment, but if you are able to source them, we recommend providing any public-facing staff or volunteers with higher quality masks.

If you are attempting to source N95 masks online, the CDC offers guidelines on identifying counterfeit N95 masks:

A Note on COVID-19 Relief Programs

Paid sick leave 

Starting January 1, 2022, workers can take up to 5 days of paid leave for any personal illness or injury. This is not reimbursed by the Province. The number of hours the employee is scheduled to work on a sick day doesn’t change the wages owed for taking a paid sick day. Instead, they’re paid an amount equal to an average day’s pay. 

For more information, such as calculating the paid leave and reasonable documentation click here.


Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit

The Government of Canada recently announced two new COVID relief programs, the Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit.

Businesses and not-for-profit organizations may qualify for the Local Lockdown Program if:

  • one or more of its locations are subject to a public health order that has the effect of reducing the entity’s capacity at the location by 50 percent or more, and
  • activities restricted by the public health order accounted for at least 50 percent of the entity’s total qualifying revenues during the prior reference period.

The new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit will provide income support to workers whose employment is interrupted by specific government-imposed public health lockdowns and who are unable to work due to such restrictions.

The benefit would: 

  • Provide $300 a week to workers.
  • Be available to workers whose work interruption is a result of a government-imposed public health lockdown.
  • Be available to workers who are ineligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and those who are eligible for EI, as long as they are not paid benefits through EI for the same period. 
  • Require workers to attest that they have lost 50 percent or more of their income as a result of COVID-19-related lockdowns during the applicable period.

Both of these programs have only recently been announced and the BCMA will continue to watch for updates to share with members. The full announcement can be found here.

Do You Have More Questions? Contact the Arts Re-Entry Clinic

If you have questions specific to your organization about public health orders or uncertainty around how to protect your staff, volunteers, and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage members to contact the Arts Re-Entry Clinic.

The Arts Re-Entry Clinic provides summary advice as a telephone service to help galleries, theatre companies, museums and other arts-based organizations navigate the uncertainties of the Public Health Orders and how they impact relationships between employers, culture workers and audiences.

Summary legal advice related to COVID-19 is available to non-profit BC-based arts organizations with annual budgets under $1,000,000. Priority will be given to those with budgets under $250,000.

The Arts Re-Entry Clinic will reopen on January 4, but you are able to submit your questions over the holiday break.

Suggested Resources

If you’re looking for information on a specific topic, we recommend the following resources: