Businesses are slowly reopening their doors in B.C. and customers are also, slowly, coming back after the COVID-19 pandemic created the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression.
But this restart of the BC economy may be fragile.
The South Island Prosperity Partnership, an alliance of over 60 public and private-sector partners in Greater Victoria, just released a new report that reviews the measures needed for the region to recover.
Economic development officer Dallas Gislason said there is a lot of uncertainty right now.
“In terms of caution, there is the matter of the second wave. That’s a big caution obviously for what’s going to happen to the economy, because to do all this work of social distancing, and working from home,” Gislason said.
B.C. has so far successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve, but a second wave would wipe everything out.
And a second wave is almost guaranteed, according to B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“If we look historically at all of the pandemics that we have historical data about, that is what has happened. Sometimes we’ve seen a bigger wave in the second wave, sometimes it’s been smaller. So we don’t know what that is going to look like,” Henry said.
That’s why it’s so important to stop the virus in its tracks.
“To have the testing, the contact tracing, and all of things that we know are important to have in place come the fall so we’re able to manage this and we’re able to manage this without overwhelming our healthcare system,” Henry said.
“I think it is very likely that there will be a second wave,” said Dr. Junling Ma, an associate professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Victoria studying the spread of infectious diseases.
He said there are a number of measures to reduce the impact of a second wave.
“One is to reduce the contacts that are between people. That is what social distancing is achieving. We can also increase monitoring. And have early detection so that we can reduce the period that a patient transmits to other persons,” Ma said.
The key to coming out of this pandemic is to continue to support the local economy and communities, according to Gislason.
“Directing some of our surplus or discretionary spending towards these businesses. So businesses that are open now, we can support those businesses on a more regular basis than maybe we otherwise would have,” Gislason said.