The BC government is extending the province-wide state of emergency for a third time, BC Premier John Horgan announced on Wednesday.
“British Columbians have shown great leadership in our efforts to flatten the curve, but we can’t take our foot off the gas now,” he said, during an afternoon press conference.
The state of emergency was officially extended until May 12 by Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
“I want to relay our government’s gratitude to the large majority of people who are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in BC,” Farnworth said in a statement. “By extending the state of emergency, we will continue to take action to keep our communities safe through this challenging time, and make sure we stay on the right path in the weeks and months ahead.”
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The province said this latest extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from BC’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.
During the announcement Horgan said he’s aware”everyone is looking forward to resuming normal activity…and we want to see that as well.”
However, “it’s going to take resolute action by all of us to continue to make progress, rather than give up the progress that has been so hard fought for over the past month-and-a-half,” he added.
Across government, he added, “we have a responsibility to provide confidence to British Columbians that the economy will be coming back to something resembling normal in the very near term,” he said. “Many other provinces have announced plans, and we will certainly be doing that as well, next week.”
He spoke about the “new normal” and what that could look like, stressing that it will “be guided by the science of public health officials, and it will be a phased-in approach, as other provinces are doing, but it will also be different, because unlike other provinces, we resisted the call for a full lockdown of our economy.”
Instead, said Horgan, the focus in BC was on “how could we keep sectors operating safely, rather than shutting them down until such time as we could open them up again.”