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Second phase of B.C. restart plan expected to go ahead: top doctor

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated May 12, 2020 at 7:09 am PDT

FILE - Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, speaking at a conference May 6, 2020. (Courtesy Flickr:bcgovphotos)
Summary

The second phase would allow some businesses to reopen, and for people to gather in groups up to six

Dr. Henry announced another death from COVID-19 in the past 48 hours, as well as 23 new cases

The recovery rate climbed to 73 per cent, up two from the weekend

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expects Phase 2 of the B.C. restart plan to go ahead next week, despite people flocking to local beaches this past weekend with record heat.

The second phase would allow some businesses to reopen, with restrictions, and for people to gather in groups up to six after the Victoria Day long weekend.

“We moved very quickly back in March, which seems a long time ago now, to put necessary orders and restrictions in place, and everybody in B.C. has been doing their part and we are now in a much better place than we were a number of months ago,” Henry said Monday.

“And as we look ahead to the restart of our province in the coming days, we want to move slowly and thoughtfully. Next week, if things continue to go the way that they have been going — and I fully expect they will — we will be at the beginning of our Phase 2 of our pandemic.”

She cautioned everyone to be patient and calm — whether that be individuals, families or businesses — to figure out how to adapt their activities to the coming changes.

Henry also announced another death from COVID-19 in the past 48 hours, as well as 23 new cases.

 

The total of deaths related to the virus in B.C. is up to 130, while cases now total 2,353.

As of Monday, 66 people remain in hospital with COVID-19, including 18 in intensive care.

The recovery rate climbed to 73 per cent, up two from the weekend.

Henry maintained that most people were following physical distancing rules on the weekend, and only a minority were not.

“I think, the vast majority of people are doing the right thing and taking this to heart, and I thank them, because that’s how we’re going to get through this,” she said, adding she was outside on the weekend.

Earlier Monday, the Vancouver Park Board announced parking lots at beaches and parks will remain closed because some people aren’t obeying physical distancing rules on the weekend.

Park board rangers have been monitoring physical distancing in parks and beaches since late March and issued more than 1,880 warnings this past weekend, according to the park board.

“We have taken the approach from the very beginning that if we provide people with the direction of what they need to do, the support they need to do it, that the vast majority of people do what is needed,” Henry said.

“We do have bylaw officers and we have others who are able to provide individual advice, and warnings to people, but we are not taking a punitive approach in this province and that’s worked for us, and it will continue to work for us.”

The second phase of the B.C. restart plan includes reopening hair salons and barbers, restaurants, cafes, and pubs, along with museums, art galleries, libraries, office-based worksites, parks, beaches and outdoor spaces, and transit services.

Restarting elective surgeries and other medical-related services are also part of that phase.

The Fraser Health Authority has announced it will start elective surgeries May 19. It anticipates its surgery schedule will be back to pre-pandemic levels within a month, and urgent and cancer-related surgeries will be given a priority.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that a second COVID-19 wave would put surgical, social, and economic renewal plans at risk.

“It’s tempting to think that we’ve made some advances against COVID-19, but it is still here,” he added.

“This coming long weekend, we know, is the kickoff to summer for many people. If we continue to use the knowledge that Dr. Henry has given us to adhere to — physical distancing, regular hand-washing, avoiding gatherings and no traveling unless it’s essential — it will be another long weekend where we help stop the spread.”

Meanwhile, the province recorded no new outbreaks since Saturday, while one involving temporary foreign workers at a nursery in Kelowna is over.

Henry was asked about re-opening borders and said they will remain closed to visitors, although there is leeway to consider exceptions for family reunification.