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Public safety minister introduces new measures

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 11:19 PDT, Thu March 26, 2020

BC’s public safety minister Mike Farnworth has introduced new steps the province will be taking during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“BC is in a strong position to effectively respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Farnworth. “Informed by the direction of the provincial health officer, we’re taking these critical steps to keep our communities safe, goods moving and essential service workers supported.”

Under the Emergency Program Act, the minister has issued a series of orders under the Emergency Program Act. They will be in place for the duration of the provincial emergency.

Newly announced orders pertain to the coordination of the supply chain, sale and resale of certain items, restriction of businesses and gatherings, ferry services, and services for vulnerable people.

Additionally, the minister has suspended local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 situation, except for the city of Vancouver. Municipal councils will have the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions, and publicly owned facilities may be used for purposes relating to COVID-19.

These steps are made based on recommendations from BC’s health and emergency management officials. They support a cross-government approach to COVID-19 response.

“Today’s measures will make sure communities are taking necessary steps, in coordination with the province, to get ready should more action be required to combat COVID-19,” said Farnworth.

Previous provincial states of emergency were declared in 1998, 2003, 2017 and 2018, all related to wildfires. In those declarations, minister’s orders did not need to be issued under the Emergency Program Act.

For more on BC’s changing response to the coronavirus situation, visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID-19

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