British Columbia’s restrictions on recreational travel may have been lifted, but the provincial state of emergency remains firmly in place for another two weeks.
On Tuesday, the B.C. government announced that it has formally extended the provincial state of emergency until July 6, allowing government and health management officials to continue using “extraordinary powers” under the Emergency Program Act.
Premier John Horgan stressed once again that while better days are in sight, British Columbians still need to be mindful of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people province-wide.
“Better days are within reach this summer, but we need to carefully guard our progress against COVID-19,” Horgan said in a statement, adding. “People in B.C. have been doing their part by getting vaccinated, following the rules and working together to put the pandemic behind us. I’m asking everyone to stay on track through step 2 of our restart so we can look forward to the opportunities that come with step 3.”
Between Aug. 20, 2020 and June 18, 2021, there have been 2,269 tickets issued to individuals for violating provincial health officer’s orders on gatherings and events, according to the province.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said in a press release that while some restrictions have been loosened or lifted, some of the provincial health officer’s orders still remain in place.
“I know everyone is excited about the restart, but keep in mind that the state of emergency and many of the orders remain in place until we move to step 3 of B.C.’s Restart plan,” he said, adding. “We all look forward to the day things go back to normal. To do that, we need to keep following the orders and public health guidance.”
Farnworth said he hopes British Columbia can move into phase three of the government’s restart plan by Canada Day.
“If we all work together and do the right things, it is my hope that by Canada Day we will be in a position to enter Step 3 of the restart plan, further relax restrictions and finally put this provincial emergency behind us,” he said.
Under current rules, the B.C. government can only extend the provincial state of emergency for up to two weeks at a time, with the last extension occurring on June 8.
Officials first declared a state of emergency back on March 18, 2020, as coronavirus cases were climbing worldwide.