B.C. government extends state of emergency as COVID-19 cases climb

B.C. government extends state of emergency as COVID-19 cases climb
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK
The B.C. legislature building. B.C. has once again extended its state of emergency.

The provincial government announced on Tuesday that the state of emergency for British Columbia has been extended again.

A provincial state of emergency allows health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on Nov. 24. The province can extend state of emergencies for up to two weeks at a time.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re all in it together,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a statement.

“It’s time to focus on the actions that helped keep us safe this spring: diligent handwashing, physical distancing, wearing a mask and staying home when you’re sick. We all have a role to play in supporting our health-care workers, the health-care system and essential workers, and we must do all we can to keep our loved ones safe, schools open and the economy moving.”

The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on March 18, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency.

Recent increases in the number of cases of COVID-19 in all regions of B.C., but particularly concentrated in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, have also led to Henry issuing further restrictions on social gatherings, indoor group exercise and travel for a two-week period in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.

The province is reminding all British Columbians to follow the orders and guidance of public health officials to combat rising cases and help avoid further restrictions.

“Now more than ever, we are asking all British Columbians to pull together and redouble our efforts to flatten the curve,” B.C. minister of public safety and solicitor general, Mike Farnworth said in a statement.

“The vast majority of British Columbians are doing the right things and following the advice of public health officials. Our government will continue to ensure that police and other enforcement officials have the tools necessary to address the selfish actions of a small minority of people who take needless risks with our collective health.”

The province continues to use, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, measures under the Emergency Program Act to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes issuing tickets for owners or organizers contravening Henry’s orders. Between Aug. 21 and Nov. 9, 2020, 47 violation tickets were issued, including:

  •  19 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers contravening the PHO’s order on gatherings and events;
  • two $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO’s Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order; and
  • 26 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is continually working to align Emergency Program Act enforcement orders with those of the restrictions enacted by Henry, the province says.

And since the pandemic began, police agencies in British Columbia have also issued 58 violation tickets to individuals who are in contravention of the federal Quarantine Act, totalling $64,000.

On Tuesday, B.C. reported 525 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths. In the Island Health region, seven new cases were recorded.



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