"Zero chance" physical distancing orders will be lifted in April: BC Health Minister

Mar 31 2020, 5:57 pm

As BC residents continue to follow the orders of provincial health officials when it comes to the fight against COVID-19, many are wondering what the chances are that physical distancing could end in the near future, perhaps even in April.

On Tuesday, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix offered a straightforward, if not somewhat sobering answer to that question: Zero.

“There’s zero chance BC’s orders will be varied in April,” said Dix during an afternoon press conference.

Looking further ahead to a May or June timeline, Dix said it’s “hard to say,” noting that  “this is going to be a challenge for a long time.”

This means that in terms of the provincial orders currently in place, and when they might change, Dix said the chance of this happening in May “or the immediate weeks after May” is “little to none.”

The timeline for these measures is “something that we’ve obviously been thinking a lot about,” said Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said.

Realistically, she furthered, “we are going to have to be in some form of prevention and monitoring of this virus until we have a vaccine, or until enough of the population is immune to it that it’s no longer infecting people.”

Henry noted that BC is dealing with its “first wave” of COVID-19 right now, which she believes will likely last another few weeks.

“More and more I think it’s less likely that we’re going to be able to get back to full normal life before at least the summer,” she said.

And then, at that point, “we need to prepare ourselves for the potential of a second wave [of the virus] in the fall.”

She conceded that restrictions may be in place “for weeks, if not months” until a vaccine is found, but she doesn’t believe “that we will have all these restrictions for that period of time.”

What she does know, however, “is that this is a critical part of our first wave, and infectious disease outbreaks do come in waves.”

And while there are “many different factors … part of it is how we respond to them. We need to hold the course right now,” she stressed. “It’s incredibly important that all of these measures that we’re taking to build these firewalls in our community, and allow us to find those outbreaks in the community … that’s where we are right now.”

These next few weeks, she added, “are really critical, and then we need to think about what we do in a thoughtful way that allows us to get back into some of the critical things that we need in our lives to be part of our community and support each other.”