The Government of British Columbia has officially extended the provincial state of emergency to the end of day on Feb. 16.
The announcement, made on Tuesday, allows health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
“We’d all like to get back to a more normal life, but our case numbers will rise if we’re not careful,” Premier John Horgan stated Feb. 2. “We’re well prepared, but as we’ve seen around the world, increased COVID-19 cases could put our health systems and us all at risk. We need to hold the course until we bend that curve down. It’s time to work together, support each other and continue to follow public health guidance so we can keep people safe.”
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials.
The original declaration was made on March 18 last year, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
The province “enhanced” its enforcement measures on Dec. 16.
This included tightening COVID-19 fine collections and asking enforcement officers to support police, and increase enforcement, by issuing violation tickets during their normal course of duties or when in public places.
To limit the spread of infection, the province continues to use EPA measures, with support of police, such as issuing tickets to owners or organizers contravening the PHO’s orders.
Locally, a Greater Trail church was fined $2,300 under the EPA Protective Measures order on Jan. 21.
Police say RCMP officers responded to a call that Thursday evening at 7 p.m. and found 29 people gathered in the church.
“We all have a key role to play during this health emergency, and there are many members of public respecting the prevention orders from the public health authorities that are not optional,” Trail RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich stated in a brief.
“We encourage everyone to adhere to the orders being implemented to keep everyone safe and reduce the risks. The Trail RCMP encourage the public to refrain from gathering to help prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.”
The COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force July 10.
Between Aug. 21, 2020, and Jan. 29, 2021, 806 violation tickets within the province were issued, including: 141 tickets ($2,300) to owners or organizers contravening the PHO’s order on gatherings and events; 28 violation tickets ($2,300) for contravention of the PHO’s Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order; and 637 tickets ($230) issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.
Since the pandemic began, police agencies in British Columbia have also issued 90 violation tickets to individuals who were in contravention of the Federal Quarantine Act, totalling $98,929.