Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth (Photo supplied by BC Government Flickr)
The provincial state of emergency is being extended for another two weeks.
It will now last until the end of the day on Aug. 18th.
It will allow B.C. Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the province’s COVID-19 response.
Recent examples of this include Farnworth imposing travel restrictions to Haida Gwaii, and issuing an emergency order to provide medical-assured loading on ferries.
Premier John Horgan said that in recent weeks, British Columbians have been reminded that COVID-19 case counts can easily rise if we’re not careful.
“As we continue our slow and safe approach to Phase 3, extending the provincial state of emergency will continue to provide (the) government with the resources we need to respond to any new challenges. This is not the time to let our guard down,” Horgan said.
The goal of the extension is to allow the province to take the necessary actions to keep BC’ers safe and manage immediate concerns, such as recent outbreaks in some areas of the province.
“We still need to be able to access the necessary tools to support communities as they combat COVID-19 and its impacts,” Farnworth said. “We will continue to extend this provincial state of emergency as long as necessary so we can ensure we are able to respond quickly and effectively to this pandemic.”
The province says actions taken in the previous two weeks include:
- earmarking up to $1 billion of additional spending targeted to address COVID-19 impacts and restart plans of local governments and public transit services;
- introducing a free day-pass program at BC Parks to help reopen busy areas while managing overcrowding;
- providing $1.5 million to help sports organizations with fixed costs during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- appointing six new provincial court judges, including the reappointment of three retired senior provincial court judges who have agreed to return to service, to help reduce backlogs in the provincial court system due to COVID-19;
- releasing B.C.’s Education Restart Plan for September, including $45.6 million for enhanced safety measures and additional resources to enable most K-12 students to return to school on Sept. 8th, with full-time in-class learning;
- enacting an emergency order for BC Ferries to provide priority medical-assured loading on the first available vessel for any individual, their vehicle and an escort;
- temporarily authorizing liquor manufacturers to deliver products directly to individual consumers from their registered off-site storage facilities, in addition to their on-site stores; and
- restricting non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii, while maintaining essential goods and services, in response to a community outbreak of COVID-19.
On July 10, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force.
It enables provisions created for people and businesses to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.
The extension is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials.
Farnworth made the original declaration on March 18th, the day after provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, declared a public health emergency.
During the 2017 wildfire season, the province was in a provincial state of emergency for 10 weeks from July 7 to Sept. 15.