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'The roaring 2020s': Many COVID-19 restrictions lift in B.C., but vaccine passport remains

Several COVID-19 restrictions have officially lifted in B.C., allowing nightclubs to reopen, indoor wedding receptions to resume and event venues to operate at full capacity.

The rule change came into effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and allowed many activities that have been off limits since December to start up again. For some industries, the restrictions have gone for much longer.

"I believe all British Columbians have gone through tremendous times over the past two years, all of us have made sacrifices," Premier John Horgan said when the changes were announced Tuesday.

"I believe it's that collective effort that's put us in the position today where we can relieve these restrictions and look forward to better days ahead."

Under the new COVID-19 measures, bars and nightclubs can reopen, with patrons dancing and mingling between tables.

"It was emotional for so many people in this industry, definitely the best, best news we've heard," said Paul Stoilen of Bar None Wednesday night.

"People like to stand up and move their hips. It'll be like the roaring 2020s."

As well, organized events such as wedding and funeral receptions are once again permitted indoors.

"I'm just so excited. This is the right thing to do and this is the perfect timing," Liting Chan, owner of Paradise Events, told CTV News Vancouver as the changes were announced. "This gives us a great hope and we can start to plan weddings."

For other businesses that could previously operate at limited capacity – like movie theatres, restaurants, performance spaces, sports arenas and fitness centres – those constraints have been removed.

"The excitement that comes with watching your favourite team or favourite events in a large group atmosphere, you can't duplicate that at home," said Brett Hertzog of Red Card Sportsbar in downtown Vancouver.

Limits to household gatherings, including group size and requiring people to be vaccinated, have also been taken away.

Even so, masks remain mandatory in indoor public spaces and proof of vaccination is required for many discretionary activities. Those COVID-19 measures and others that remain will be reviewed in March and April.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel and Alissa Thibault Top Stories

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