Tuesday March 16, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
The BC Government has again today extended its declaration of a State of Emergency during the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency which has seen 88,929 cases of the infection in BC and 1,407 directly-related deaths. The daily case count has remained robustly over 500 for many weeks.
The renewed State of Emergency extension runs to end of day March 30, 2021.
Today marks one year since the pandemic was declared as a public health emergency by Public Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry on March 17, 2020, with the State of Emergency first put into effect the day after, on March 18, 2020.
This is now the 26th time that the State of Emergency has been renewed, as it’s been extended every two weeks without interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The State of Emergency allows health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response,” it was stated in a release today at 4:06 pm.
Premier John Horgan is pleased about the availability of vaccines, but reminded British Columbians on March 1 in a news conference that supply depends on federal procurement and offshore production (which also implies the variabilities that can happen with long-distance shipping).
Horgan commended public health experts, front-line health-care workers, essential workers and British Columbians “who are committed to doing their part to keep us all safe”. He added: “We’re going to get through this together.”
“We’ve been living with the challenges of COVID-19 for more than a year, and while our lives have changed, our resolve has not,” Horgan said in today’s release.
“This is a sobering occasion, but with vaccinations ongoing in BC, it’s also one for hope and optimism,” the Premier said. He encourages people to continue following public health orders and advice “to ensure we can be healthy and safe as we look forward to better days ahead”.
“Although this has been a challenging year, the best is still before us,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, in today’s news release. He urge people to continue focussing on keeping themselves and communities safe by following the orders and restrictions in place.
Orders continue that restrict gatherings (to household only), wearing masks in all indoor spaces, and allowing essential travel only. Enforcement will include tickets to owners, operators and event organizers who host an event or gathering that contravenes the Public Health Officer’s orders, said Farnworth.
It was stated again in today’s release that when the pandemic ends, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act (as passed July 10, 2020) will continue as needed, to enable provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.