B.C.’s state of emergency in response to COVID-19 has been extended for the 26th time, marking a year since the original declaration was made.
The B.C. Government said the state of emergency was first called on March 18, 2020, a day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
“British Columbians have been living with the challenges of COVID-19 for more than a year, and while our lives have changed, our resolve has not,” said Premier John Horgan. “This is a sobering occasion, but with vaccinations ongoing in B.C., it’s also one for hope and optimism. Let’s continue to follow public health orders and advice to ensure we can be healthy and safe as we look forward to better days ahead.”
The state of emergency allows the Province to take extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support its pandemic response.
This measure has been extended by the B.C. Government in two-week intervals ever since it was originally declared. This extension will continue until March 30th.
B.C. is reminding the public that it still has the power to enforce measures under the EPA to limit the spread of COVID-19, including issuing tickets to those who host an event or gathering contravening the PHO’s orders.
“Although this has been a challenging year, the best is still before us. If we continue to focus on keeping ourselves and our communities safe by following the orders and restrictions in place, we will end this state of emergency,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I want to thank the majority of people in B.C. who are following the rules. For those who don’t, our compliance and enforcement officers have the tools they need to enforce the orders. Know that if you break the rules, you will face consequences.”
Previously, the province’s record for the longest state of emergency was during the 2017 forest fire season, which lasted 10 weeks, from July 7th to September 15th.