What will it take for B.C. to relax COVID-19 restrictions? Officials to share details soon
VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials are developing plans for an eventual relaxing of some of the province's rigid COVID-19 restrictions and could be sharing details as early as next week.
On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials are in the process of determining what conditions would need to be met before they could lift some of the rules that have dramatically changed daily life for millions of people across B.C.
"Those plans and the conditions are still being worked out," Henry added. "I will tell you there are a number of things we're looking at, that we've been monitoring, including some of the modelling and I'll be looking to share that with you probably next week."
And despite the signs that B.C. could be "bending its curve" – the province has stayed below 500 active cases since March 27 – officials have repeatedly stressed that it is far too early to stop taking the threat of the virus seriously.
Doing so would reverse the current progress and put more lives at risk, they say. Dr. Henry has previously warned people to expect the restrictions to remain in place at least until the summer.
And even once some of the restrictions are lifted, Henry suggested Tuesday that officials could later be forced to bring them back.
"We're in for a bit of a ride on this," Henry said. "We will have a period of time, hopefully, where this will wane … allowing us to go back to some of the activities that we've been doing, but then we need to monitor very carefully and if we start to see transmission in the community again, particularly as we go into the fall, we'll need to look at what are the measures that are most important, that help reduce those chains of transmission again."
Part of the planning process has involved watching what's happening elsewhere in the world, particularly in the Asian countries that saw early success in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Several of them have seen new cases spike in recent weeks, including Singapore and South Korea.
"We know that Singapore, they've started to increase their restrictions again because they saw an increase in cases," Henry said.
Henry said the public shouldn't expect to fully return to the way of life they enjoyed just a few short weeks ago until a vaccine is available or until most people have built a natural immunity to the virus.
Preventing that natural progression from happening too quickly is the point of everything British Columbians have collectively done so far, she added, as an explosion in cases would threaten to quickly overwhelm hospitals and leave the province in a much more severe crisis.