Thursday June 25, 2020 ~ VICTORIA, BC
by Mary Brooke, editor ~ West Shore Voice News
Considering the full impact and implications of moving into Phase 3 of the Restart BC pandemic response recovery plan, it was a relatively low-key announcement yesterday by Premier John Horgan.
He and his government — relying with confidence on the guidance and foresight of Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry — are still understandably cautious as to unknown outcomes as people intermingle more with the virus still out there.
But government leadership is also pleased that British Columbians have done such a good job of flattening the curve to keep cases low in BC, learning and following measures like physical distancing — while we all await an effective treatment of COVID-19 infection or indeed a vaccine.
“This weekend, let us recommit to being 100% all in,” said BC Health Minister Adrian Dix, about British Columbians now being in this new phase of COVID-19 response and recovery.
“People around the world are struggling with this,” Dix said today. He said British Columbians “understand what we need to continue to do to succeed in BC”, with reference to keeping a flattened curve against any significant rise in COVID-19 cases. Everyone is to keep up physical distancing — being even more vigilant than before as we are out of our homes more and travelling to other neighbourhoods and communities and broadening our bubbles.
Phase 3 opens up most things except large gatherings:
In Phase 3, people can take part in smart, safe and respectful travel within B.C. Remember, international travellers returning to BC are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days and complete a self-isolation plan.
The BC Restart Plan takes a phased approach to reopening. This allows sectors and activities within the phases to open when the evidence and data tells us the time is right, and as protocols and guidance are in place for them to do so safely.
The guidelines and extra safety precautions for sectors in Phase 2 are still in place. That includes physical distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home if you’re sick, and wearing a mask if you can’t maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Businesses and sectors that reopen must have an operational plan around these requirements, and post it for all employees and customers to see.
What can reopen in Phase 3:
The following are businesses that may be reopening and some measures that may be in place.
- Hotel, motels, RV parks, cabins, resorts, hostels, lodges, and backcountry operators
- BC Parks overnight camping
- Motion picture and television production
- K-12 in-person classes, 2020/2021 school year
- Post-secondary in-person classes, 2020/2021 academic year
Schools in Phase 3:
Schools will be able to go ahead with pandemic-managed in-class instruction in September, which is the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Today Dr Henry said that detailed plans are being worked on by the Ministry of Education based on what was observed and learned this month in a short reopening of school that began June 1.
Schools this month were attended only part-time by students (for whom that was voluntary) with the remainder of learning from home. Teachers were required to return to classrooms and/or a combination of teaching in-class and remotely.
Travel in BC this summer:
Travel is different this year. The precautions you take at home should also be taken when you are away, it is explained on the Restart BC portal.
Some towns, communities and regions who rely on tourism are eager to welcome BC visitors with safety measures in place. Others might be hesitant to welcome outside visitors this summer and people need to respect that.
British Columbians are encouraged to be respectful of the communities they plan to visit and to be safe while enjoying the many beautiful locations across our province.
If you are travelling to BC from another province or territory within Canada you are expected to follow the same travel guidelines as everyone else in BC and travel safely and respectfully and ‘learn the BC way’.
COVID-19 spread does continue in BC:
Dr Henry was not surprised to see some increase in COVID-19 infections this month, now that more people are active in their communities.
Case counts continued in a controlled way this month. At June 1 there were 2,597 cases, and as of today June 25 there are 2,869 cases (20 of which are new today). That’s an increase of 272 cases this month, or just over 10 cases per day on average.
Keeping up the pace:
On June 23 during her media briefing in which the fifth set of data modeling was presented, Dr Henry noted that it was her 100th media appearance about COVID-19 since the pandemic began to ramp up. She did say “I’m getting tired”, but with a bit of a good-spirited resolve.
But in this short period of 2020 she has skyrocketed to levels of recognition and fame in many circles — including public health and people across Canada — with a particularly fan-based type of following on social media and here on Vancouver Island.
Dr Henry’s mantra to “Be kind, be calm and be safe” has become a household phrase for many. Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix repeat her catch-phrase reminder frequently too.
State of Emergency renewed to July 7:
The State of Emergency in BC was once again renewed this week (for the eighth time during the pandemic), as announced by Premier John Horgan on June 24. That extends the province’s extraordinary powers now to end of day July 7, 2020.