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Premier optimistic B.C.'s restart moving in the right direction

Last Updated Jul 9, 2020 at 3:56 pm PDT

FILE - B.C. Premier John Horgan provides the latest update on the COVID-19 response in the province during a press conference from the rose garden at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A few weeks into Phase 3 of B.C.'s Restart Plan, Premier John Horgan says there are reasons to be optimistic

Horgan says the province is moving forward in the new normal while managing to keep new cases low

Horgan says a successful return to school in June paved the way for the fall semester

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Two weeks into Phase 3 of B.C.’s Restart Plan, the premier says the province is doing well.

While the economy is nowhere near what is was pre-pandemic, Premier John Horgan said there are some positive indicators and the province has managed to keep new COVID-19 case counts low.

“There’s great reasons for optimism as we look at how our restart is going across the province,” he said Thursday during an update on B.C.’s economy.

Transit and BC Ferries ridership are up and Horgan said, so are the number of people eating at restaurants and shopping at stores. The new-normal is still setting in, but the entertainment industry is picking up as well.

“Twenty-four television and movie-of-the-week productions return to British Columbia and we are hopeful we’ll get back to the full complement of TV and movie productions before the end of the summer,” he said.

Still, Horgan stressed B.C’s tourism sector will have to continue to eke out its existence without outside visitors while the border remains closed.

“I don’t think dollars that would be invested in the tourist economy are worth the risk to public health and, it turns out, the vast majority of British Columbians agree with me on that.”

The premier said this shows B.C. is learning how to do things safely during the pandemic.

Horgan said B.C. is also leading the way with schools – the only jurisdiction with a successful province-wide voluntary reopening – providing a foundation to build on ahead of the new school year beginning in September and dealing with complex challenges of students returning.

“I’m pretty excited about where we are,” he said. “The last four months have been extremely challenging for British Columinians. We’re far from out of the woods.”

Despite the projected federal deficit of about $343 billion, Horgan said planned infrastructure projects will go ahead.

“I’m confident the federal government has been very aggressive getting money into the economy,” he said. “We’ve been focusing through the pandemic how we can get public dollars into the market place to stimulate activity and to keep people whole.”

He said the federal government’s matching of funding will help meet the targets of infrastructure in the province.