BC renews state of emergency for another two weeks
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
The announcement comes after BC recorded 761 new cases of COVID-19 on January 7 and eight more deaths which Henry says were all seniors living in long term care homes.
If your New Year’s resolution was to get out more, you may want to change your resolution. To ring in 2021, the BC government announced on January 5 (for the 22nd time) that they will be extending their state of emergency status for at least another two weeks. Additionally, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that COVID-19 restrictions will also be extended until February 5.
The first state of emergency announcement began in March and has been in place for 43 weeks now. This breaks BC’s record for the longest state of emergency held by more than four times. The extension allows health officials more power (under the BC Emergency Program Act) to enforce COVID-19 health orders in responding to the pandemic. The 2017 wildfires of BC caused the province to announce a state of emergency for 10 weeks.
On top of that, Henry announced another extension on COVID-19 restrictions to early February in hopes of curbing the increase in reported cases. The extension includes all restrictions which bans all public and private social gatherings and events as well as any fitness and sports related activities, no socialization with people outside of their immediate household, and no non-essential travel. People living alone are allowed one or two people from their core socialization bubble, and essential workplaces and schools remain open. The gathering restrictions were first announced on November 7 for two weeks for Vancouver Coastal and Frasier Health areas, and were then extended on November 19 and expanded across the province.
The announcement comes after BC recorded 761 new cases of COVID-19 on January 7 and eight more deaths which Henry says were all seniors living in long term care homes. Outbreaks of the virus continue to infiltrate 51 long terms care homes and 10 acute care establishments. Henry also suggests these restrictions may be extended again depending on the outcome of new cases in the next few weeks. On December 16, BC announced health enforcement measures to control the spread of the virus. Of these enforcement measures is included public enforcement officers supporting police to hand out fine and violation tickets in public when deemed necessary. In BC, people going against COVID protocol have so far accumulated over $500,000 worth of fines. A total of 103 $2,300 fines were issued to owners and organizers going against the provincial health orders, and 21 2,300-dollar tickets were distributed to those contravening the Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order. On top of that, 450 $230 tickets were given to those who refused to comply with law enforcement, and 77 violation tickets totalling $84,266 were handed out to individuals who were not complying with the federal Quarantine Act.