Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Provincial State of Emergency extended to May 12th; Premier Horgan explores themes of opening up the province in weeks and months to come

Premier Horgan outlined some of
the latest elements for the provincial
 response to the COVID pandemic
While they were quick to praise British Columbians for their efforts towards the provincial COVID-19 response, Premier John Horgan and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth are still cautious towards any change in the current measures, in fact they have extended the current provincial state of emergency for another two weeks.

Speaking in Victoria today the Premier made note of the leadership British Columbians have shown, but also counselled the need to stay the course for a bit yet.

“British Columbians have shown great leadership in our efforts to flatten the curve, but we can’t take our foot off the gas now. As we look toward the future and our ‘new normal,’ we must remember what got us to this point and continue to stay the course now to keep our communities and our loved ones safe.”

As part of the continued commitment towards flattening the curve and keeping communities safe, the extension will take the current measures into mid May, with the new expiration date that of May 12th pending any further updates.

During the course of their media availability today, the Premier and Solicitor General highlighted some of the actions that the government has taken to date in the pandemic fight, noting work on homeless issues, frameworks for health care in rural, remote and First Nations communities and enforcement orders for police and other enforcement officers towards price gouging and the resale of medical supplies and essential goods.

The extension of the Provincial State of Emergency until mid May was taken on the recommendation of the province's Health and Emergency Management Officials, the original Declaration was made back on March 18th, after the Provincial Health Officer, Doctor Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency.

In their statement, like the Premier, Solicitor General Farnworth paid tribute to the work of the ongoing efforts of British Columbians, while noting that with the extension the province will continue to travel on the right path ahead.

“I want to relay our government's gratitude to the large majority of people who are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. By extending the state of emergency, we will continue to take action to keep our communities safe through this challenging time, and make sure we stay on the right path in the weeks and months ahead.”

More background on today's extension can be found here.

The Premier reviewed a range of themes as part of his look at the provincial response to date, covering economic elements and with that a thumbnail sketch of the road ahead, noting that the government has a more expansive roll out the path ahead planned for next week.

Mr. Horgan observed as to how many other provinces have already announced their plans, the Premier instead highlighting how British Columbia was planning for a phased in approach, building on their work so far.

"So what will the new normal look like? It will be guided of course by the science and the work of Public Health officials. And it will be a phased in approach as other provinces are doing but it will be different in British Columbia, because unlike other provinces we resisted the call for a full lockdown of our economy and instead adopted a different approach. The approach of British Columbia was to focus on how could we keep sectors operating safely, rather than shutting them down until we could operate them again"

The Premier also cautioned about moving too quickly, advising that the province doesn't want to slip backwards when it comes to the level of success found to date.

He also reviewed some of the provincial programs that have been put in place as part of the pandemic response, particularly those that allow workers to remain home if they are ill and should not be going to work.

While no decisions have yet been made on the future path for education and recreation for youngsters in the province, the work continues to find the right way to reintroduce all of those elements back into a normal routine.

Mr. Horgan also addressed the prospect of any non-essential travel in the short term and further into the summer, noting the impact that the lack of travel will have on the tourism sector.

"There's been discussion about tourism, the hotel sector is going to be critically injured over the next number of months, because people will not be coming to British Columbia. We'd like to see I hope in the not too distant future, people travelling around British Columbia.  But you've also seen, how communities have responded, rural and remote communities have responded to the prospect of people from away coming for a visit. 

All of those issues are going to have to be dealt with, Government doesn't have a magic formula there but kindness and compassion and a sense of confidence that there are processes and guidelines in place to protect public health, will allow us to open up completely, not just industry, not just businesses, but communities as well."

On that point the Premier specifically made note of the concerns of residents from Haida Gwaii and the Central Coast of recent weeks.

"I'm speaking specifically about the case of Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella and other places who have said we'd like to see you, but we don't want to see you now. The example that just shines in my mind is Tofino.  A tourism town, that still feels, rightly so that they are concerned that people from away could bring the pandemic to their territory and their community and they don't want to see that. We need to see as a society, to come to terms with how we can all interact together as we did before in the benefit of everyone"

The full presentation from the Premier can be reviewed below:

For more notes related to the provincial response to COVID-19 see our archive page here.

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