The Province of British Columbia has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province's COVID-19 pandemic response.
The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on March 2, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“The fight against COVID-19 has been a long and difficult one, and I am proud of what British Columbians have accomplished to flatten the curve and protect our health-care system,” said Premier John Horgan. “The beginning of our mass vaccination program is just weeks away, and health-care workers have already vaccinated virtually everyone in our long-term care system. We need to keep following public health orders, knowing they will keep us safe as we work to end the pandemic in B.C.”
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, 2020, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
“The vast majority of British Columbians are getting the message that we need to work together and follow public health orders so we can all get through COVID-19 safely,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “For the few who aren’t getting the message, police departments across B.C. have been doing an excellent job enforcing restrictions and ticketing offenders.”
The Province continues to use, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, measures under the EPA to limit the spread of COVID-19, including issuing tickets for owners, operators and event organizers who host an event or gathering contravening the PHO’s orders.
On July 10, 2020, 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.
On Dec. 16, 2020, enforcement measures were expanded.
Details are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0108-002083
On Nov. 24, 2020, a mask enforcement order was introduced under the EPA, requiring masks for people over the age of 12 in public indoor settings, unless they are exempt.
Details are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EMBC0061-001960
For information on all recent orders and guidance, as well as general COVID-19 information for all British Columbians, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the centre‘s website: http://www.bccdc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.