THE Province of British Columbia on Tuesday formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on November 24 to allow staff to continue to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re all in it together,” said Premier John Horgan. “It’s time to focus on the actions that helped keep us safe this spring: diligent handwashing, physical distancing, wearing a mask and staying home when you’re sick. We all have a role to play in supporting our health-care workers, the health-care system and essential workers, and we must do all we can to keep our loved ones safe, schools open and the economy moving.”
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on March 18, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
Recent increases in the number of cases of COVID-19 in all regions of B.C, but particularly concentrated in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, have led to the PHO issuing further restrictions on social gatherings, indoor group exercise and travel for a two-week period in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions. The Province continues to urge all British Columbians to follow the orders and guidance of public health officials to combat rising cases and help avoid further restrictions.
“Now more than ever, we are asking all British Columbians to pull together and redouble our efforts to flatten the curve,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “The vast majority of British Columbians are doing the right things and following the advice of public health officials. Our government will continue to ensure that police and other enforcement officials have the tools necessary to address the selfish actions of a small minority of people who take needless risks with our collective health.”
The Province continues to use, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, measures under the Emergency Program Act to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes issuing tickets for owners or organizers contravening the PHO’s orders. Between August 21 and November 9, 47 violation tickets were issued, including:
* 19 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers contravening the PHO’s order on gatherings and events;
* two $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO’s Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order; and
* 26 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is continually working to align Emergency Program Act enforcement orders with those of the restrictions enacted by the PHO.
Additionally, since the pandemic began, police agencies in British Columbia have issued 58 violation tickets to individuals who are in contravention of the Federal Quarantine Act, totalling $64,000. The purpose of the Quarantine Act is to protect public health by taking comprehensive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.
On July 10, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.