The provincial state of emergency is being extended an additional two weeks to support continued co-ordination of B.C.’s COVID-19 response.
“We are now in the longest state of emergency in our province’s history, and British Columbians everywhere have shown we have what it takes to persevere through these challenging times,” said Premier John Horgan. “As we slowly turn the dial on our social and economic activity, we must work together to do so in a way that keeps our communities and loved ones safe in the weeks and months to come.”
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, is extending the state of emergency as B.C. begins to safely and carefully restart the province. B.C. is now in Phase 2 of its Restart Plan, which lays out a series of steps and principles that everyone must follow to protect people and ensure the province can come back from COVID-19 stronger than before.
“As businesses work hard to safely reopen their doors and friends and families carefully expand their social bubbles, we are beginning to see what this global challenge will look like in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “Our government is committed to supporting people and businesses for the long road ahead, and we will continue to find ways to keep the economy moving and keep people safe.”
The current state of emergency is being extended through the end of the day on June 9, 2020. During the past two weeks of the provincial state of emergency, the government has taken action to support British Columbians by:
- welcoming the release of the initial set of WorkSafeBC guidelines that will help businesses and organizations develop their plans to reopen safely during Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan;
- helping the province’s hospitality sector by temporarily authorizing the expansion of service areas, such as patios, to support physical distancing requirements and industry recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- supporting people working on the front lines in B.C.’s health-care system, social services and corrections by providing temporary COVID-19 pandemic pay as part of a cost-shared program with the federal government;
- announcing that parents will have the choice to bring their children back to class on a part-time basis this school year as part of BC’s Restart Plan, with the goal of returning to full-time classes in September 2020; and
- supporting people who were living in encampments in Victoria at Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue to move into secured temporary accommodations, with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety.
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. Farnworth made the original declaration on March 18, 2020, after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency the previous day.
- Declarations of provincial states of emergency may be issued by the minister responsible under the Emergency Program Act.
- The provincial government can extend the period of a declaration made by the minister responsible for further periods of up to 14 days at a time.
- The current state of emergency is the longest in B.C.’s history, surpassing the 2017 wildfire season when the province was in a state of emergency for 10 weeks from July 7 to Sept. 15.