With a new year comes another state of emergency extension in B.C.

It’s now in place to the end of the day on Jan. 19th.

The province’s extension allows officials to continue to enforce COVID-19 safety measures.

This includes handing out fines to people who refuse to wear masks in indoor public places, and to owners or organizers of large gatherings and events.

The province is also toughening COVID-19 fine-collection measures, and calling on enforcement officers to support police, and increase enforcement by issuing violation tickets in public places.

As well, labour minister Harry Bains has asked WorkSafeBC to ramp up in-person inspections in targeted areas. 

Solicitor general Mike Farnworth says most British Columbians are following public health orders, and that’s what will help us get case numbers back down. 

“Having said that, we’re continuing to use enforcement and fines for those who insist on putting lives at risk by ignoring orders,” he added. 

“We continue to strengthen the tools officials need to keep people safe, and we won’t hesitate to use them.”

To date, 28,209 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., and while premier John Horgan says there’s hope on the horizon with vaccines beginning, he cautions everyone to keep following public health orders: “British Columbians have been working hard to flatten the curve, and to do that, we can’t let up too soon. We need everyone to hang in there and continue to do what they need to do to keep case numbers low.”

In yesterday’s update, the province reported 428 new cases of COVID-19, including  90 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including Powell River, and  nine on Vancouver Island.

There are now 367 patients in hospital with COVID-19, 77 of whom are in intensive care. 

Eight more people died from the virus.