After the provincial government declared a state of emergency earlier this month, BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and BC Premier John Horgan announced on Thursday that the province is taking the next steps in its COVID-19 action plan.
As part of these steps, Farnworth said that under the Emergency Program Act, he is issuing a series of ministerial orders to ensure a co-ordinated response to coronavirus across all levels of government for the duration of the provincial emergency.
Among these orders is a ban on on the secondary resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other essential supplies; and restricting quantities of items purchased at point of sale.
“People engaged in that kind of activity can expect to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Farnworth. “The police will have the powers to be able to not only investigate but to press and lay charges.”
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“Adjusting to this new temporary reality isn’t easy but it’s necessary,” said Farnworth.
And while “many in BC are playing their part, we’ve all seen examples of some who defy orders and continue to defy instruction.”
Horgan said it remains crucially important for British Columbians to follow the orders of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry when it comes to things like business closures and the allowable size of group gatherings.
“They’re not suggestions or ‘good advice,'” he stressed. “They’re the law. We’re counting on everyone to do their part, and BC’s action plan will get us to where we need to be in the days and weeks ahead.”
As such, other measures announced today include the enabling of municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders for business closures and gatherings, in line with offences under the Public Health Act.
Other measures include the establishment of a provincial supply chain coordination unit “to co-ordinate goods and services distribution [and] take a more active role in co-ordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail,” said Farnworth.
He added that any bylaws restricting goods delivery at any time of day are now repealed.
Farnworth also announced the suspension of ,local states of emergencies across the province – with the exception of the one currently in effect in Vancouver.
This move, he said, will give municipal councils the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions; and co-ordinating potential use of local publicly owned facilities, like community centres, for self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing and distribution.
“These unprecedented steps, made based on the recommendation of B.C.’s health and emergency management officials and invoked for the first time under a provincial state of emergency, will support the provincial health officer and minister of health in a co-ordinated cross-government approach to COVID-19 response and recovery,” he said. “Today’s measures will make sure communities are taking necessary steps, in co-ordination with the Province, to get ready should more action be required to combat COVID-19.”
More to come…