B.C.’s low COVID-19 infection rates are leading Canada and residents are prepared for in-province travel and the opening of resorts and hotels, Premier John Horgan says.
Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced June 24 what has been signalled for more than a week, that “phase three” is ready. It includes a restart of film and TV industry work and movie theatres.
Horgan said the reopening of sit-in restaurants and the booking of 100,000 provincial campsites has shown that the B.C. residents are ready for more activities and travel. Other signs of public confidence include an increase in public transit use.
“TransLink weekly ridership last week was more than double what it was at the COVID-19 low point of April 5, and ridership on B.C. Ferries is increasing as well,” Horgan said.
Horgan and Henry warned that physical distance measures remain critical to controlling the spread of virus infection, and events such as big family reunions remain too dangerous.
“This is not the time for big parties or family gatherings, particularly,” Henry said.
The B.C. cabinet also extended its state of emergency to July 7, and has presented legislation allowing the cabinet to extend emergency measures for up to a year.
B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the decision to reopen travel is based on public health evaluation, but the shift to phase three is “not very well defined” by Horgan.
“If the public health officials think it’s time to move on to a new phase, then that would seem to be appropriate, because we all need to be concerned about getting B.C. back to life, back to business, back on the job so that people have something to look forward to now that the virus seems to be under control in B.C.” Wilkinson said.