B.C. now in longest state of emergency in its history, says Horgan

B.C. now in longest state of emergency in its history, says Horgan
Province of BC
Premier John Horgan provides a weekly update on May 27, 2020.

Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that the provincial state of emergency has been extended for a fifth time, noting that it’s the longest state of emergency in B.C. history.

The extension is in place for another two weeks to support B.C.’s COVID-19 response and Horgan said there is “no likely end in sight” to the declaration. The first state of emergency was declared on March 18.

“As we turn the dial up and increase our social and economic activity, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the objectives that we as a province collectively embarked upon some two months ago,” Horgan said.

On June 22, B.C. MLAs will be returning to Victoria and sitting in the B.C. legislature. However, Horgan said some members may still use video conference.

Horgan also announced the opening of a new urgent primary care centre in Surrey B.C. at Wednesday’s press conference.

According to Horgan, this will relieve pressure on Surrey Memorial Hospital and provide more healthcare options to people in Surrey.

As for international travel, Horgan said Wednesday it is something that is reviewed on a weekly basis but he doesn’t see restrictions changing anytime soon.

Horgan was asked by reporters about the NHL playing in Vancouver. He said B.C. will not waive the 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering Canada, including hockey players.

“We’re focusing on the well-being of the citizens of British Columbia,” Horgan said.

The National Hockey League (NHL), which unveiled its return-to-play plan Tuesday that would feature 24 teams if the league is able to resume, announced Tuesday that Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are in the running for hub citities along with Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul in the U.S.

The goal is to name two cities to host 12 teams as part of a plan to complete the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup.

Horgan said he doesn’t want to “rule out” the NHL from coming, but the league hasn’t presented the province with a plan at this time.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the Canadian government’s mandatory 14-quarantine for anyone entering the country would make markets north of the 49th parallel a non-starter.

“If we’re not able to really get an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in and not have to do a strict self-quarantine in a hotel room … we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub,” Daly said. “So we’re faced with having to find a solution to that. And hopefully we can.”

The NHL said it will wait another three or four weeks before announcing its hub plans.

“We are having various discussions with various different departments in the Canadian government,” Daly added. “We don’t have a resolution there, but it’s an ongoing dialogue.”

You can watch Horgan’s news conference on the CHEK News YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Horgan spoke from Victoria’s parliament buildings along with B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Last week, Horgan announced during a press conference that the province is ready to introduce a gradual increase in returning students to in-class learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

British Columbia is currently into the second phase of its restart plan.

ALSO READ: Students have option to return to school part-time beginning in June, says Premier John Horgan

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, and Dix did not do a press conference today for COVID-19 numbers. Instead, they provided a statement Wednesday afternoon.

With files from CBC and The Canadian Press

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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