B.C. planning to ease COVID-19 restrictions, but no date yet
Falling case numbers are speeding up ongoing plans to introduce a strategy to ease requirements
VICTORIA — British Columbia is making plans to relax province-wide restrictions aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but a firm date has not been set, says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Getting close” was as far as Henry ventured during a news conference.
But she said falling COVID-19 case numbers in the province are speeding up ongoing plans to introduce a strategy to ease restrictions.
“It’s clear evidence that our sustained efforts to follow public health measures are working in BC,” said Henry. “Safe physical distancing and self-isolation requirements have slowed the rate of transmission and we’re now seeing a decrease in numbers.”
Over the past two days, 50 people in BC have tested positive for the disease for a total of 1,998, she said.
Three more people have died and the provincial death toll now is at 103, while 1,190 people have recovered from COVID-19.
Henry said the rate of transmission has slowed and health officials are able to find more links to outbreaks with increased surveillance, which means the time to start easing restrictions is approaching.
“We’re getting close to the time where we can open up,” Henry said. “Plans are being developed here in BC and have been for the past weeks, but we are taking the time to do it right.”
BC is likely to face challenges from spring floods and wildfires that will test physical distancing practises on the front lines as firefighters and flood relief workers are deployed to disaster areas, she said.
Flood watches are already underway in the province’s central Interior, where rising waters have prompted dozens of evacuation alerts for rural properties.
“Nobody wants to see a resurgence, so we are watching very carefully,” Henry said. “Our focus is to provide a consistent framework so that different sectors know where they need to operate within.”
She said businesses in BC play a role when it comes to relaxing restrictions while ensuring the safety of workers.
“Simply put, protecting your employees protects your business and protects all of us,” Henry said.
She mentioned COVID-19 outbreaks at two Vancouver-area poultry processing plants, where 59 people have tested positive for the virus.
Both plants have been shut down by public health orders.
— By Dirk Meissner