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B.C. extends state of emergency two more weeks

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Apr 15, 2020 at 6:58 pm PDT


Horgan says efforts are being made to ensure online learning is working across the province

When schools reopen will depend on the outcome of provincial modelling, he says

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. cabinet ministers voted Wednesday to extend the provincial state of emergency for another two weeks in an effort to slow the transmission of COVID-19 further.

Premier John Horgan thanked B.C. residents for efforts to follow physical distancing and other health and safety orders during this past long weekend.

“It was a wonderful weekend. We have more weekends ahead of us,” he said during his briefing.

“I believe that people have cause for general celebration and a pat on the back, collectively and virtually, I should say, for the work we’ve done together to flatten the curve.”

However, he added, more work remains.

That said, the state of emergency has been extended for two more weeks, essentially to the end of April.

He encouraged British Columbians to “focus on the task at hand — and that is protecting ourselves, protecting our families, protecting our communities from this scourge of a virus and the pandemic that is ceasing the entire world.”

Regarding education, Horgan said efforts are being made to ensure online learning is working across the province.

He added when schools reopen will depend on the outcome of provincial modelling, the results of which are expected Friday.

“But I look at my colleagues across the country who set arbitrary dates for a return before the data was in, before the science was confirming that, and we’re not going to follow that lead,” Horgan said. “We are going to look at the numbers as they emerge over the weeks ahead before we make those determinations.”

Horgan also said the B.C. border plan — requiring a self-isolation plan — is working, with only 85 of 4,700 residents returning to Canada from abroad in quarantine since it was implemented.

The premier also addressed requests from TransLink and the City of Vancouver for financial help with revenue losses.

TransLink confirmed earlier this week that it’s losing $75-million a month due to reduced ridership because of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart reiterated on Wednesday a request by the city for $200 million in emergency funding.

Horgan said municipalities across B.C. are seeing a decline in revenues during the pandemic.

“We are still trying to figure out where we go as a province, where our regions need support, what we can ask from the federal government,” he added.

Horgan said he speaks with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland daily and has brought up the issue of BC Ferries and TransLink.

Both are critical components of the B.C. economy, he added.

“We cannot continue to operate even our essential services if we don’t have public transportation for our nurses, our care aides and other providers,” or workers in other sectors.

“If we can’t get them to work, we will fail,” he said.

“I want to caution all British Columbians, we are making this up as we go, as the problems emerge.”

Abundant Transit, a rider advocacy group, has started a petition to pressure the federal government to ensure transit services in Metro Vancouver aren’t cut any further during the pandemic.

So far, more than 1,500 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in B.C., with 75 deaths and 955 recoveries.