B.C. premier extends COVID-19 state of emergency, offers few details on future

Click to play video 'B.C. Premier extends state of emergency for two weeks' B.C. Premier extends state of emergency for two weeks
WATCH: British Columbia Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday the province had formally extended a provincial state of emergency as it continues to cope with the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. The state of emergency has been extended through the end of the day on April 28 – Apr 15, 2020

B.C. Premier John Horgan has again formally extended the province’s state of emergency as the coronavirus pandemic continues, but provided a small glimpse of when restrictions might be eased and the economy start to recover.

“We are starting to see the results of our sacrifice, dedication and hard work, and we must continue to be steadfast in our commitment to keep our communities safe,” Horgan told a news conference on Wednesday, extending the state of emergency until the end of the day on April 28.

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

He acknowledged it could still be a long time before strict physical-distancing rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 are lifted, but did provide a few details when pressed about the future might look like.

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“I believe we are on our own timeline. We have been from the beginning. We saw this early, we addressed it early, and perhaps we will come out from underneath it early. But the data, the science, will direct us in that regard,” Horgan said.

“It’s not going to be [a matter of] snap your fingers and we’re back to the way we were. People need to push that out of their minds. This will be a phased-in response as we’ve seen in other jurisdictions and, as I expect, we’ll see in other parts of Canada.”

Horgan is chairing an economic task force that meets once a week to determine the next steps province will take on the road to recovery.

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One of the target areas is the television and film industry, where producers may be looking for options as California and other states struggle with curbing the transmission of COVID-19.

“We want to be in a position, based on the initiatives that we have undertaken and the hard work of British Columbians, to say to those who want to restart their filming, whatever it might be, whether it is TV, major motion pictures, all of that activity — we want it to come back to B.C. as quickly as possible,” Horgan said.

As for kids returning to schools, the premier said the priority is incorporating online learning for all K-to-12 students.

But, even though there are substantial hurdles, a return to the classroom this year has not been ruled out. Horgan said officials are having “preliminary discussions” and waiting for the new modelling numbers for provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Friday.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Horgan says preliminary talks underway to discuss reopening of schools – Apr 15, 2020

“I look at my colleagues across the country who’ve set arbitrary dates for a return before the data (is) in … and we’re not going to follow that lead,” he said.

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“We’re going to look at the numbers as they emerge over the weeks ahead before we make those determinations.”