Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson

COVID-19 could soon become a communicable disease like many others that are "effectively and expertly managed" by the public health system, deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said Monday.

British Columbia is on track to begin Step 2 of its Restart program next week as COVID-19 cases drop and vaccinations rise.

"We are on a good path to get back to work, to school, to university, to seeing friends, to travelling, to resuming those connections that are so important to all of us," deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said Monday.

From Friday through Monday, 481 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across the province, including 101 in Interior Heath.

The daily average of 160 new cases is down from last week's average daily average of about 190 new cases.

As well, 146,000 more people received COVID-19 vaccination shots during the past three days, bringing the adult vaccination rate to 74%.

"The news continues to be good on vaccinations. We had a very strong weekend of vaccinations," Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

Under the government's Restart plan, many activities and events will be permitted again next Tuesday.

Recreational and non-essential travel will be permitted again across the province, indoor and outdoor events of up to 50 people will be allowed, indoor group exercise and sports will be permitted, and licensed premises will be able to sell liquor until midnight instead of the current 10 p.m. cutoff.

Provided new cases of COVID-19 continue to drop and vaccination rates continue to rise, phase 3 of the Restart plan will start on July 1. That will allow for a resumption of such things as fairs and festivals, Canada-wide travel, increased capacity at both indoor and outdoor events, and the re-opening of casinos and nightclubs.

Dr. Gustafson looked forward to a time when the effort against COVID-19 will not require state-of-emergency provisions and orders against commonplace activities, but will instead involve routine public health measures.

"We will be aiming to shift our approach from pandemic emergency response to sustainable public health management," she said.

"This approach is actually similar to how we prevent and control other communicable diseases," she said. "What we can look forward to in an immunized population is that COVID-19 will become one of these communicable diseases, a disease that is effectively and expertly managed by public health and the health care system."