VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry cautioned, a day after B.C. unveiled its four-phase re-start plan, that the second one hasn’t started yet.
She said changes concerning the size of groups allowed to gather — up to six people — and those related to reopening parts of the economy begin after the Victoria Day long weekend.
“I will remind people we are now in Phase 1 and we continue to be in Phase 1, and that means we must continue what we are doing for a bit longer,” she added.
“We need to have a slow and thoughtful reset. We do not want to undo all that we have done,” Henry said.
For expanding circles — what is it going to look like?
all around the dinner table? going in for a hug?
She says – start small. In NZ they say double your bubble.
Don't make it one group one night and another group the next.
Just one group.#bcpoli #covid19 @NEWS1130
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) May 7, 2020
“And even as we shift into this next phase, not everyone will be ready to increase their social connections or to restart their businesses. At the same time, we don’t expect that on Day 1, all of a sudden everything will be open and back to normal. Just because it’s allowed, as well, doesn’t mean that everyone must or should change what they’re doing now.”
During her daily briefing, Henry also announced two more COVID-19 deaths and 33 new cases.
The total number of deaths in B.C. is now 126, while cases are up to 2,288. The recovery rate remains at 66 per cent.
The province reported no new outbreaks, nor new cases at existing ones at the three Lower Mainland poultry plants, nor at the federal prison in Mission. Active outbreaks continue at 21 long-term-care, assisted-living and acute-care facilities.
Henry said 76 people remain in hospital with the virus, with 20 in intensive care.
The majority of all deaths — 78 — have been people in long-term care.
“And, you know, those are seniors and elders who have history of our families and our lives and we cannot minimize the tragedy that those deaths are,” Henry said.
She reiterated that the order banning gatherings of 50 people or more will not be lifted, including religious gatherings.
Public posting — Dr. Henry says businesses must demonstrate to employees and customers what is being done to be safe. Part of the social contract she says. Ensuring all do what is asked of us – not congregating, keeping distance, staying home if ill#bcpoli #covid19 @NEWS1130
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) May 7, 2020
“I do not see any change with religious gatherings, in that, you know, we have restrictions on how many people can be at an event together. We need to maintain physical distancing, so that limit is at 50,” she added.
“It’s still very much a necessity for all of us to continue our safe physical distancing. Our washing our hands regularly, avoiding non-essential personal travel, and those things are things that will not change, even when we move to Phase 2 in the coming days.”
Regarding the second phase, Henry said that individual plans for every business that will be opening do not need to be submitted for approval, but they must be publicly posted.
“This is how we have accountability to each other.”
She also said work continues to make community sports possible, while gyms might be able to reopen in the third phase, depending on their size and how they are able to handle the restrictions.
“We have had transmission of this virus in gyms in B.C.,” Henry added.
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) May 7, 2020
With the first phase of the re-start plan still in effect, and with concerns about case numbers spiking again, Henry asked people to keep their social circles small to help prevent a second wave in the fall.
“Maybe there won’t be a second one, but every other pandemic in recorded history has had at least two waves, some more,” she said.
“What I want people to think about is starting small,” Henry added. “In New Zealand, they’ve been talking about, you know, double your bubble. Okay, that’s a way of thinking about it. But don’t make it two people one night, then four people who are different the next night. “