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 May 25, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“As our vaccine rollout speeds up, we need everyone to register to be notified as soon as it’s their turn,” said Premier John Horgan. “Getting vaccinated and continuing to follow public health guidance helps support our health-care workers and gets us all a step closer to putting the pandemic behind us.”
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, declared a public health emergency.
“Most British Columbians have been doing their part to stay close to home and follow public health guidance, and that commitment is showing as the number of cases and hospitalizations begin to ease,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “But we’re not through this yet, and everyone must continue to follow the rules or face enforcement. More importantly, by following orders for the next while and avoiding non-essential travel, you’ll be doing your part to get us all through this sooner.”
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. This includes issuing tickets for owners, operators and event organizers who host an event or gathering contravening the provincial health officer’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.