B.C. premier not ruling out more COVID-19 restrictions, return to earlier restart phase
VANCOUVER -- Days after temporary regional restrictions were announced by B.C.'s top doctor, the premier isn't ruling out the possibility of more orders if COVID-19 cases don't decrease.
During an afternoon news conference, Premier John Horgan spoke about Dr. Bonnie Henry's latest health orders that came after B.C. saw a spike in new cases.
"In the last two weeks we've seen a dangerous increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly in the Lower Mainland," Horgan said Monday, adding that officials are aiming to keep essential services like schools, surgeries and most businesses operating.
"All of this is at jeopardy if we don't continue to focus on working together … to bring case numbers down."
Henry announced the latest restrictions in an unusually timed news conference Saturday. The new measures are in place for two weeks in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, with the exception of a few communities.
But when it comes to the possibility of returning to Phase 1 of B.C.'s restart plan, Horgan warned "that's the end result if we don't start to see these numbers come down."
Horgan said that officials want to keep the economy open "to the greatest extent possible."
"It's going to require people to get with the program," he said. "And there's a whole bunch of people that are not abiding by the minimalist rules we had in place, and that's why we've seen the regional issues."
Horgan explained the province didn't take stricter measures sooner because B.C. has "only recently seen a significant increase in cases."
"If these measures are inadequate, we'll look at other measures," he said, adding that people need to remain flexible. "The plan for today may not be the plan a month from now."
Horgan explained that health officials are trying to implement measures that not only keep essential services operating, but keep British Columbians "as comfortable as possible."
"No one should be under any illusion … that we're going to be out of this anytime soon," he said.
"There's nothing normal about a pandemic. There's nothing normal about the challenges we're facing."