B.C. extends public state of emergency until April 28
VICTORIA -- B.C. Premier John Horgan extended the province’s state of emergency at a live address in Victoria on Wednesday.
The provincial state of emergency was first declared on March 18 to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. It has now been extended by two weeks, until April 28.
Horgan said that the extension will help ensure “that all British Columbians stay the course” in helping flatten the curve of COVID-19.
"Through this challenging time, British Columbians are leading the way in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Horgan in a statement.
"We are starting to see the results of our sacrifice, dedication and hard work, and we must continue to be steadfast in our commitment to keep our communities safe - for ourselves, our loved ones and our workers on the front lines."
Horgan added that he was optimistic about B.C.’s efforts in combating COVID-19, suggesting that the modelling that will be presented by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Friday is promising.
The premier said that British Columbians’ quick adoption of health orders recommended by Dr. Henry made a crucial difference in the rate of the virus’ spread.
“These initiatives made a difference,” he said. “And that is what the evidence clearly demonstrates. Although it has been a very tough road, I’m not diminishing that.”
Horgan added that while COVID-19 cases vary by region, the provincial government would continue to use a provincewide approach in managing the health crisis. Provincial health orders, for example, would likely be eased across B.C. at the same time, rather than by individual health region.
Horgan said that removal of any health orders would be based on Henry’s recommendations.
He noted that the restrictions would be lifted slowly, and in deliberate phases.
The premier stressed the importance of continuing to follow provincial health orders, like remaining at home as much as possible and practising physical distancing.
He added that the province was not looking into stepping up enforcement of provincial health orders at this time, though it may do so in the future if officials believe it is necessary.
“For that small group of people that are not [following guidelines] I think public scorn is just as effective a tool as any sort of [ticket] or prosecution,” said Horgan.
“If we need to take stronger action than the scorn of your peers, we will do so.”
Horgan did note, however, that a 92 per cent drop in BC Ferries ridership over the Easter long weekend was a clear “signal that people get it.”
"British Columbians should be proud of the way we have responded to this crisis. But the work is not over," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Soliciter General in a statement.
"We must hold our ground and take all the steps needed to make sure our communities remain safe and our essential service workers are supported in our ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."