VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s provincial health officer says she’s optimistic the province is moving to a “better place” that could see more COVID-19 restrictions lifted this month before spring break.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says a decline in hospitalizations, immunity from vaccination and the availability of at-home rapid tests point the way forward to normal activities like high school graduations that youth in particular need to feel connected to others.

However, she says not everyone will be ready or able to leave behind some pandemic measures like masks so it’s important for people to be respectful of those who are immunocompromised or elderly because they’re still at risk of infection.

She says businesses and workplaces will have to take responsibility for requiring some measures like vaccine passports, depending on the level of risk, and it’s important to move slowly through a time of transition.

Henry says there are still some uncertainties about new variants, including BA. 2, with some cases present in B.C., though no cases of BA. 3 and Delta Omicron have been detected in the province.

Henry says she will soon shift to weekly updates as B.C. ensures it’s prepared for a potential uptick in COVID-19 cases during respiratory season in the fall.