The next COVID-19 update will be provided on Monday, June 15. After nearly three months of daily (M-F) updates, the BC Centre for Disease Control will be only providing detailed COVID-19 data twice a week going forward.
Government to look at reforming Police Act, per Minister Farnworth
On Friday afternoon, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth issued a
in response to calls for reform of B.C.’s
Minister Farnworth noted that his government knows “more work can and must be accomplished,” on the issue of police reform in British Columbia. Farnworth met with Premier Horgan earlier this week to discuss B.C.’s
, an Act which Farnworth says is “outdated ... and out of step with our government’s approach and our work with police services on important issues including harm reduction and mental health.”
Premier Horgan has asked Minister Farnworth to strike an all-party committee to engage with communities and experts on how the
can be modernized to reflect today’s challenges and opportunities for delivering police services with a specific focus on systemic racism.
Minister Farnworth will be tabling a motion to strike this all-party committee when the Legislature resumes later this month.
New provincial health order for food and liquor service establishments
In Friday afternoon’s COVID-19 update, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix discussed recent changes to the food and liquor service sector. The two noted that while there have been no new community outbreaks, they are monitoring the restart activities closely, and are continuously modifying their approach. This includes amending regulations covering food and liquor service establishments.
Dr. Henry has amended the provincial health officer’s
applying to these establishments.
The new order issued Thursday does away with the one-size-fits-all, 50-per-cent capacity limit. The new rules still cap overall numbers in bars and restaurants at 50 people, but offer more freedom to businesses to set their own capacity limits. Groups are still capped at six guests. This was done in recognition that a safe number of patrons in any given establishment is dependent on the amount of space, not the restaurant capacity.
Province records highest number of fatal overdoses in a single month
The BC Coroners Service said on Thursday that 170 people died of an illicit drug overdose in the month of May in B.C., marking the highest total ever recorded for a single month in provincial history. This is more people than have died from COVID-19 in B.C. all year.
In an emotional address on the report, Dr. Henry pointed to a number of factors when addressing the high number. According to the province, drug users are facing an extremely toxic street drug supply as a result of disruptions in the supply chain due to COVID-19.
Dr. Bonnie Henry pleaded with British Columbians to show the same compassion to people caught up in the opioid crisis as they are to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Henry approves Vancouver Canucks’ plan to be NHL “hub city”; Province issues ministerial order to support return to amateur sport
The Vancouver Canucks have received Dr. Bonnie Henry’s stamp of approval on their plan to offer the city as an NHL “hub” should the league be able to resume play in the coming months.
“I am now comfortable indicating my support for this initiative as long as a very strict modified team quarantine and testing protocol as outlined in the plans is follows,” Dr. Henry wrote in a letter to Tina Namieniowski, the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The plan the Canucks presented to Dr. Henry and the National Hockey League has not yet been made public.
The NHL is expected to announce later this month which two cities will play host if they are indeed able to resume play during the pandemic. Vancouver is one of 10 finalist cities vying for the hub classification. Toronto and Edmonton are also on the shortlist.
Premier Horgan told reporters the Dr. Henry-approved plan includes a modification to the quarantine rules that allows a family to be an entity or a ‘bubble’.
According to the province, any testing would be the responsibility of the club, and players, coaches and staff would not be able to interact with the public during the 14-day quarantine after entry to Canada. Bill Daley, Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, has previously said the league would not come to a city where players and staff would be required to quarantine in a hotel room for 14 days.
Premier Horgan has written to Prime Minister Trudeau asking for ‘isolation bubbles’ that would include arenas and accommodations, meaning hockey could begin during the 14-day quarantine window.
“This modified quarantine regime would enable NHL teams to resume playing without adverse effects on B.C. residents,” Horgan writes.
In addition to supporting the NHL’s return to B.C., the province has taken action to support a return to amateur sport, too. Earlier this week, the provincial government issued a ministerial order that protects amateur sport organizations, their employees, and their volunteers from liability.
Provincial and local sport organizations had identified challenges with obtaining adequate insurance as a result of the pandemic. Most insurance companies are not providing coverage for COVID-19 related damages, meaning many amateur sports were unable to provide sport programming during the pandemic. The ministerial order protects amateur sport organizations and their representatives from damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from COVID-19 for amateur sports.