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 June 22, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“A more normal summer is within reach, but we still need to be careful,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have seen how quickly case counts can rise if we let our guards down, so I urge everyone to keep following the public health guidance to keep each other safe. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can advance to the next step of BC’s Restart and safely get back to all the things we enjoy.”
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.
“Public health guidance is for a reopening plan that is slow and careful, and the orders will continue to follow those recommendations,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I know we’re all looking forward to the day when the orders are removed, but right now they’re still in place. So, I want to remind everyone that it’s important to continue to obey the orders and follow the public health guidance as we move forward.”
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 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.