VANCOUVER -- Some of the first COVID-19 restrictions implemented in B.C. could be lifted as early as July, health officials announced Tuesday as B.C.'s restart plan was unveiled.

On March 16, 2020, the B.C. Lottery Corporation announced all casinos, as well as community gaming centres and bingo halls, would close due to the coronavirus.

Since that time, even though other restrictions have lifted and been reinstated, casinos have remained closed. 

In announcing B.C.'s restart plan Tuesday, health officials said casinos may be able to reopen as early as July 1.

However, that reopening would be contingent on case counts continuing to decline in the province and vaccination rates continuing to increase, however.

Similarly, nightclubs were shut down by public health order on Sept. 8, shortly before the province entered its second wave of the pandemic. 

At the time, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry described the change as a "last resort" but said the venues had been a source of significant risk and proved challenging for contact tracing.

"Despite weeks of effort by public health teams, these venues are still the source of significant risk to everybody in British Columbia," she said in September.

But those restrictions could also lift as early as July 1, if the province's restart strategy moves ahead as planned. That would come around the same time that liquor service restrictions are expected to be lifted along with group-size limits for restaurant dining.