‘Move carefully and stay alert’: B.C.’s top doctor warns as province starts to reopen Tuesday

How concerned is B.C.’s top doctor about COVID-19 cases heading into phase 2 of restart plan?
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is asked by a reporter at a press conference Monday, about her concerns about COVID-19 transmission as British Columbia heads into phase 2 of its plan to restart the economy.

As Phase 2 of B.C.’s reopening plan starts Tuesday and businesses start to operate under a “new normal”, officials are continuing to warn residents to remember they need to practise social distancing and good hand hygiene.

“For many, the transition brings anticipation, but it also, for many brings further apprehension and anxiety,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.

“Once again, we are still learning new ways of safe social interactions and doing things that we’ve never had to do.”

Two more people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. in the past 48 hours.

Both people were in long-term care homes, one in the Fraser Health region and one in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

This brings B.C.’s total to 143 deaths from the novel coronavirus.

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READ MORE: 2 more people die from COVID-19 in B.C. but no new health-care or community outbreaks

Henry wants to remind everyone that in order to continue to ease restrictions we have to show patience and compassion for ourselves and others.

“As we enter this phase, (we need to) continue to think about consideration and generosity and respect for others,” she said. “That is what will get us through, with the easing of restrictions and the added social interaction and the potential for a flare-up in new cases.”

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She said they have seen success under gradual reopening plans in other places around the world and officials will be watching carefully if there are any flare-ups of new cases.

“We will ensure that we have the testing, the contact tracing and the ability to manage any new cases that we see. But we all have to move carefully and stay alert. Every day we can and must do our part to continue to hold the line,” Henry said.

She added it can be beneficial to think about how being out and around people can affect the ability to keep yourself and those around you safe.

“If you are using transit or going into a smaller store or keeping a safe physical distance, it might be more challenging. Those are the times where we can consider wearing face masks to protect others. Simple things can make a big difference,” Henry added.

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READ MORE: Vancouver clothing stores eye reopening with changes to fitting rooms, returns

WorkSafeBC has released guidelines for all of the industries expected to re-open as part of Phase 2 of B.C.’s restart plan.

“Every employer is required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that assesses the risk of exposure at their worksite and implements measures to keep their workers safe,” said WorkSafeBC head of protection services, Al Johnson, last week.

Guidelines are now available for industries such as restaurants, cafes and pubs, salons and personal services, real estate, arts and cultural facilities (museums, art galleries, and libraries), retail, schools and parks and outdoor spaces to name a few.

WorkSafeBC releases guidelines for major sectors re-opening next week
WorkSafeBC releases guidelines for major sectors re-opening next week

B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix also wants residents to remember while we may want to start expanding our social bubbles a little now, everyone must still play their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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“No matter what phase we’re in,” he said. “Throughout the summer and well beyond, physical distance remains our constant companion. Physical distance along with washing our hands… and staying home if we’re sick.”

“Our ongoing discipline, the same rigor in our practices we’ve demonstrated so far ensures we stay 100 per cent committed to stopping the spread.”