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 April 27, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“This is a difficult time for everyone,” said Premier John Horgan. “With the vaccine program well underway we can see hope on the horizon, but higher case numbers and variants mean that we need to draw back in some places instead of opening up. I want to thank British Columbians for their hard work so far, and I’m going to ask you to keep putting your shoulders to the wheel for a while longer so we can all get through this safely and recover with the strength this province is known for.”
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, B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
“Public health orders are in place to keep us safe so we can eventually loosen restrictions and return to a more normal life,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “If people want to get back to travelling, gathering and doing all those things we’ve been missing for so long, we all have to follow the orders and guidance. For those who just can’t seem to get that message, enforcement measures will continue to ensure public safety. Police and other enforcement agencies are working hard to make sure the efforts of the majority of British Columbians aren’t dampened by the selfishness of a few.”
The Province continues, with the support of police and other enforcement officials, to use 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.