Vancouver is now in a state of emergency — so what does that mean?
VANCOUVER -- The day after the City of Vancouver officially declared a local state of emergency, Mayor Kennedy Stewart updated the media on the city's response to COVID-19.
Stewart, along with Vancouver's fire chief, the city manager, and the general manager of arts, culture, and community services, spoke at a news conference Friday.
They addressed the steps being taken by the city to minimize the impact of the virus on residents and municipal operations.
- Read more on what was announced: Vancouver orders all restaurant table service to shut down, closes playgrounds
City council voted unanimously during a virtual special meeting on Thursday to declare a state of emergency. But what does that actually mean?
Officials can take over land temporarily
With the declaration, the city has the ability to acquire land or property within the community when needed. This includes buildings that could be used for healthcare, childcare, and shelter.
If there's an outbreak of the virus in a certain area, the city would have the ability to restrict, prohibit or limit local occupancy, such as forcing businesses in the affected neighbourhood to close.
Emergency crews can get access to supplies faster On Thursday, city manager Sadhu Johnston said the state of emergency would allow first responders to be the first priority when obtaining equipment and supplies.
The mayor also said the declaration would allow emergency management teams and first responders more flexibility to deploy resources.
City can crack down on bars
The city ordered all bars restaurants to be closed on St. Patrick's Day, but the mayor was told by police that several stayed open and had patrons inside. The province has issued a ban on large public gatherings and ordered events with 50 or more people to be cancelled.
The state of emergency would give the city the ability to force restaurants defying the orders from public officials to close.
"Part of these powers will enable us to close all public-serving businesses to assembly service, and remain open only to provide takeout delivery," the mayor said.
Power to prevent panic buying
Stewart has described panic buying as "unacceptable," and these emergency measures would allow the city to address the issue.
The mayor told CTV News in an interview on Thursday that the city is now getting daily updates on the supply chain and has asked for a colour-coded warning system. He was told things are still at "green"—meaning there are no problems with supply. A "yellow" or "red" warning would mean things are worsening.
"If residents do not immediately change their behaviour and begin acting with their fellow Vancouverites in mind, I will work with local retailers and I will take action," he said.
Stewart did not elaborate on what that action would look like, but he said the city was in touch with the B.C. government, which has declared a provincial state of emergency, to figure out "who does what."