BC passes one year mark in state of emergency

·2 min read

British Columbians have now been living under a state of emergency for more than one year.

On Mar. 16, 2021, the state of emergency was formally extended for the 26th time, marking a year since the initial declaration which was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This continued and unprecedented state of emergency provides health and emergency management officials with the ability to use the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Program Act (EPA) in support of the province’s COVID-19 response.

The state of emergency will run until end of day Mar. 30, 2021, as it is only permitted for any state of emergency to be extended by two weeks at a time. On Mar. 30, the state of emergency will be either extended for another two weeks or called off.

“British Columbians have been living with the challenges of COVID-19 for more than a year, and while our lives have changed, our resolve has not,” said Premier John Horgan.

“This is a sobering occasion, but with vaccinations ongoing in BC, it’s also one for hope and optimism. Let’s continue to follow public health orders and advice to ensure we can be healthy and safe as we look forward to better days.”

The extension of the state of emergency is based on recommendations from BC’s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on Mar. 18, 2020, one day after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency.

“Although this has been a challenging year, the best is still before us,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“If we continue to focus on keeping ourselves and our communities safe by following the orders and restrictions in place, we will end this state of emergency. I want to thank the majority of people in BC who are following the rules. For those who don’t, our compliance and enforcement officers have the tools they need to enforce orders. Know that if you break the rules, you will face the consequences,” Farnworth warned.

On July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act came into force, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald