B.C. premier extends state of emergency, asks people to ‘re-commit’ to COVID-19 fight

B.C. Premier John Horgan addresses province in televised speech
WATCH: B.C. Premier John Horgan's speech in full.

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that he has extended the province-wide state of emergency until April 14 in his first televised address Tuesday night amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

“The next 14 days are critically important in our province’s unprecedented fight against COVID-19. What we do today will affect what our doctors, nurses and first responders face in the days and weeks ahead,” Premier John Horgan said.

“Today, we’re asking all British Columbians to re-commit to doing their part. There are early signs that our actions are making a difference, and we can’t stop now.”

READ MORE: B.C. takes ‘unprecedented steps’ in response to coronavirus pandemic

In the seven-minute address, Horgan stressed British Columbians must stay home as much as they can, when they are outside their home, stay two metres away from others and if they go to work, practise physical distancing.

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“We all need to take this very seriously. These are not suggestions. They’re the law,” Horgan said.

“COVID-19 may be the biggest challenge our province has ever faced.”

Premier Horgan to address the province Tuesday night
Premier Horgan to address the province Tuesday night

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Chief medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been stressing the importance of the next 14 days.

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Horgan reiterated the importance of the next two weeks by encouraging British Columbians to follow the rules and help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“There are more challenges yet to come. That’s why the next 14 days are so important. What we do today will affect what our doctors, nurses, and first responders face in the days and weeks ahead. It will determine how many of us stay healthy, and how much we can do to flatten the curve,” he said.

“I want to thank all of you who are doing your part by staying at home, And by helping your friends, your neighbours and people in need. You might not see it from your living room, but everyone in B.C. is pulling together.”

Much of the speech focused on thanking those on the front lines of the crisis.

B.C. premier announces new relief for renters and landlords
B.C. premier announces new relief for renters and landlords

Horgan thanked transit and ferry workers, long-haul truckers, dockworkers and delivery drivers. He mentioned the work being done by workers in grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and child-care centres.

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The premier also spoke directly to workers in the province’s health-care system.

“You are moving heaven and earth to help people who are sick. We know you’re stressed. We know you’re exhausted. We know you are being pushed to the very limit. We know you are putting yourself in harm’s way so that others can be safe,” Horgan said.

“And for that, you have our deepest gratitude.”

The province will be unveiling details on Wednesday of a new partnership between government, business and B.C.’s tech sector.

The new program will connect B.C. companies to health-care centres in need of supplies including hand sanitizer made by local distillers and reusable medical garments designed by outdoor clothing companies.

“We are leaving no stone unturned as we gather the personal protective equipment you need to stay safe. We’re taking steps to secure supply chains,” Horgan said.

“But we are not the only people on the planet looking for this equipment.”