BC premier says details of plan to reopen coming next week
Province didn't fully lock down so Horgan said reopening guidelines will be different than other provinces.
VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan says he will outline details next week about reopening BC during the COVID-19 pandemic as workers at two additional poultry processing plants were reported to have tested positive for the virus.
Horgan said the reopening guidelines will be different than other provinces, mostly because BC didn’t fully lock down its economy, allowing construction, agriculture and other industries to continue operating.
“The approach in BC was to focus on how could we keep sectors operating safely, rather than shutting them down until such time as we could open them up again,” he told a news conference.
Horgan said the reopening plan will focus on ensuring health orders on physical distancing and self-isolation are being practised so that new COVID-19 cases are kept to a minimum.
“It’s not just going to be the flick of a switch,” said Horgan, who also announced the province’s state of emergency has been extended by another two weeks.
He said the public must have confidence about safely entering businesses and workers must have assurances about their safety as the province takes a “slow, methodical, phased-in approach” to reopening.
“The only way we build that confidence is to have a set of common protocols, common guidelines, in place to protect workers, in place to protect consumers,” he said.
Horgan said he doesn’t expect regular classes at schools to resume until at least September.
The government said 13 outbreaks of COVID-19 are over, but four more people died from the illness in the province. A total of 109 people have now died from COVID-19 in BC.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the four people who died were seniors living in long-term care homes.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 34 new positive tests COVID-19, for a total of 2,087 cases, with 1,305 people having recovered.
Horgan expressed concern that workers at four poultry processing plants have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since last week.
Horgan said provincial sick pay standards are being reviewed after the province heard workers at one plant told health inspectors they went to work sick because they couldn’t afford to lose a day’s pay.
“That just can’t continue,” he said.