As the curve gradually flattens and COVID-19 cases drop across the province, officials are taking a serious look at reopening. In their most recent update, they say that the B.C. economy will open soon and the details are coming in early May. Although, they're taking their time and being extra cautious of reopening without a plan.
In an update on Thursday, April 29, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that, with new cases being low, the province is looking at reopening the economy.
"We have a bigger responsibility to provide confidence to British Columbians that the economy will be coming back to something resembling normal in the very near term," said Horgan.
He then announced that, like other provinces in Canada, B.C. will be releasing its plans for reopening next week.
The "new normal" will be guided by research and science, said Horgan, and it will be "phased in" one part at a time. But Horgan also said B.C.'s reopening will look different from other provinces as they didn't fully close all their businesses.
"How could we keep some sectors operating safely, rather than shutting them down until such time that we could open them again," he said.
In the same conference, Horgan announced that B.C. will keep its state of emergency for another two weeks.
Horgan said that in order for restaurants to reopen, for example, people need to feel safe and comfortable going into them. To do so, he said we need to make a set of "common protocols" followed by everyone.
He applauded the local restaurant industry for already hustling to put plans in place together "so that they can operate safely."
Some sectors will be returning faster than others. For schools, Horgan said there won't be a "regular return to education as we know it" until into September.
Horgan also said the province will start replanting trees and has put in place "safe operating procedures" for doing so as well as for foreign workers in agriculture.
All in all, Horgan says that the province will be taking a careful, slow startup approach to reopening the economy. "It’s not just going to be the flick of a switch," he said.
The foundation of the plan relies on ensuring processes and guidelines so people can feel safe while getting "back to a regular schedule of consumption."
The state of emergency in the province has been extended until May 12, 2020. "We need to have full buy-in from all British Columbians," Horgan said.