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B.C. launches Phase 3 of COVID-19 restart plan
VICTORIA -- B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that British Columbia is ready to gradually and cautiously begin Phase 3 of its restart plan.
Horgan says that Phase 3 will introduce guidelines for reopening more economic industries, and endorses travel within the province.
However, B.C.’s Premier stressed that the next phase of reopening does not mean things have “returned to normal.”
“We must continue with the foundational elements that Dr. Bonnie Henry has put forward and that we’ve all been following,” he said.
Horgan and B.C.’s top doctor say that travel within the province must be done safely and respectfully. Travellers are asked to make plans before moving throughout the province and to check in with communities that they intend to visit.
“We believe if we are careful with how we treat communities that we haven’t visited in a while … Phase 3 achievements will be as positive as Phase 2,” said Horgan.
“There still communities in B.C. that are still concerned,” he added.
As Phase 3 rolls out across the province, WorkSafeBC and B.C. health officials will help create guidelines for hotels, resorts, parks, movie theatres, entertainment venues and the film industry.
With international travel restrictions still in place, Horgan is encouraging British Columbians to turn to local services and tourism destinations.
“This is an extraordinary summer that will require an extraordinary effort from all British Columbians,” he said.
However, at the same time, officials say that everyone must continue to practice personal health practices, like regular hand washing, staying home if feeling unwell and avoiding large gatherings.
Maintaining these health measures is especially important if people are travelling across the province this summer, say health officials.
“We have all worked very hard to find that balance during our pandemic,” said Henry Wednesday.
“If we go too fast we risk losing the ground that we’ve made,” she said.
Given B.C.’s success in maintaining low rates of COVID-19 transmission during Phase 2 of the province’s restart plan, Horgan says he’s hopeful that Phase 3 will be equally successful as more restrictions are lifted.
“I’m hopeful that as British Columbians leave their communities and start going farther afield that they understand they are going to someone else’s neighbourhood and that they are respectful of that,” he said.
B.C. extends provincial state of emergency
On Wednesday, Horgan also announced that B.C.’s provincial state of emergency had been extended by another two weeks, until July 7.
The provincial state of emergency was first declared on March 18 in response to COVID-19 and is the longest state of emergency ever declared in B.C.’s history.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the B.C. government introduced the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, which will allow programs that were created to support citizens and businesses to continue after the provincial state of emergency ends.
“We've succeeded in flattening the curve by working together, but COVID-19 will continue to be in our province until we have an effective treatment or vaccine,” said Henry in a statement.
“By staying vigilant and following our foundational rules, we can safely do many of the things that we enjoy for the months to come.”