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State of emergency extended to continue B.C.’s COVID-19 response

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

“In recent weeks, British Columbians have been reminded that COVID-19 case counts can easily rise if we’re not careful,” said Premier John Horgan. “As we continue our slow and safe approach to Phase 3, extending the provincial state of emergency will continue to provide government with the resources we need to respond to any new challenges. This is not the time to let our guard down.”

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on Aug. 18, 2020, to allow government to continue to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns, such as recent outbreaks in some areas of the province.

“We still need to be able to access the necessary tools to support communities as they combat COVID-19 and its impacts,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We will continue to extend this provincial state of emergency as long as necessary so we can ensure we are able to respond quickly and effectively to this pandemic.”

Actions taken in the previous two weeks to support British Columbians include:

* earmarking up to $1 billion of additional spending targeted to address COVID-19 impacts and restart plans of local governments and public transit services;

* introducing a free day-pass program at BC Parks to help reopen busy areas while managing overcrowding;

* providing $1.5 million to help sports organizations with fixed costs during the COVID-19 pandemic;

* appointing six new provincial court judges, including the reappointment of three retired senior provincial court judges who have agreed to return to service, to help reduce backlogs in the provincial court system due to COVID-19;

* releasing B.C.’s Education Restart Plan for September, including $45.6 million for enhanced safety measures and additional resources to enable most K-12 students to return to school on Sept. 8, 2020, with full-time in-class learning;

* enacting an emergency order for BC Ferries to provide priority medical-assured loading on the first available vessel for any individual, their vehicle and an escort;

* temporarily authorizing liquor manufacturers to deliver products directly to individual consumers from their registered off-site storage facilities, in addition to their on-site stores; and

* restricting non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii, while maintaining essential goods and services, in response to a community outbreak of COVID-19.

On July 10, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force. The legislation enables provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.

The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. Farnworth made the original declaration on March 18, 2020, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency.

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