B.C. Government COVID-19 response update

The COVID-19 situation in British Columbia is continually evolving and the information below is current as of 10 a.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020. For up-to-date information visit www.therockymountaingoat.com.

Cases:

* Total confirmed cases in B.C.: 472

* New cases since March 21, 2020: 48

* Hospitalized cases: 33

* Intensive care: 14

* Deaths: 13

* Recovered: 100

Confirmed cases by region:

* Vancouver Coastal Health: 248

* Fraser Health: 150

* Island Health: 39

* Interior Health: 30

* Northern Health: 5

 

Testing:

*  Testing capacity has increased to approximately 3,000 tests per day.

* In Canada, almost 110,000 people tested. Of those, nearly were 21,000 in B.C. as of March 24, 2020. About 400 tests have been done in Northern Health.

* Testing is available for all who need it, but not everyone requires a test.

* If you have no symptoms, mild symptoms or you are a returning traveller self-isolating at home, you do not require a test.

* For each of these situations, the public health advice remains the same, regardless of test results: self-isolate for 14 days to monitor for the development of symptoms or until your symptoms are completely gone.

* Those who have severe illness, require hospitalization, are residents of long-term care facilities or are health-care workers will continue to be tested.

* Anyone part of an active investigation or outbreak cluster will be tested so they can be appropriately monitored.

* If symptoms appear, call your health-care provider, call 811 for guidance or check your symptoms online: https://covid19.thrive.health

 

Provincial advice and measures:

* Along with being able to check symptoms online, British Columbians can now download a new self-assessment app: https://bc.thrive.health/

* B.C. announces first steps to support people, businesses, including tax deferrals and a one-time $1000 top-up to those claiming the new federal EI benefit.

* Provincial tax changes announced by government, including delaying increases to the carbon tax.

* Guidance to construction sites operating during COVID-19

* Restaurants allowed to use servers to deliver liquor products

* Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, has ordered personal service establishments, such as but not limited to: nail salons, tattoo parlours, barbershops, beauty parlours, health spas and massage parlours are ordered to close until further notice. These services require direct, personal contact with other people – and that is impossible to deliver while maintaining appropriate distancing.

* The B.C. government support and relief for the province’s most vulnerable and those living in BC Housing.

* The B.C. government plans to increase subsidies to daycares during the COVID-19 pandemic (both those open and those that close).

* Henry has ordered all restaurants must move to take-out or delivery model only or they must close. They may deliver liquor and hire servers to deliver it, under certain conditions.

* BC Liquor Stores clarifies working hours, extra steps taken during COVID-19 pandemic.

* BC Parks to remain open with new COVID-19 protocols.

* Henry clarifies direction on physical distancing relating to going outside. It is safe to go outside to get fresh air, walk pets, ride a bike and exercise while maintaining safe physical distances of 2m.

* The B.C. government is waiving the MSP coverage wait period for people moving back to B.C. from COVID-19 impacted areas. In addition, the B.C. government will provide health coverage to British Columbians who are out of province and unable to return.

* Long-term care facilities including the McBride Hospital restrict visitors to essential visitors only.

* Henry has reminded employers that they must excuse workers for sickness without requiring a doctor’s note.

* All public universities and colleges have switched to online classes for the rest of the term.

* Henry has issued an order providing criteria for exempting essential service workers from self-isolation protocols.

* B.C. government has suspended K-12 learning in all classrooms. A decision on when and how to return will be made in partnership with school districts and independent schools.

* Businesses with liquor primary licenses (bars, pubs, night clubs, etc.) ordered to close

* Henry has issued an order for travellers to self-isolate for 14 days if they have been out-of-country and returned on or since March 12th.

* The B.C. government made changes to the Employment Standards Act to protect workers and prevent layoffs to supplement changes by the Federal government.

* Measures related to hospital operations, long-term care facilities, casinos and gatherings over 50 people are here.

 

Declaring a Public health emergency:

Under a provincial health emergency, a provincial health officer, among other emergency powers, may:

* do orally what must otherwise be done in writing;

* serve an order in any manner;

* act in a shorter or longer time period than is otherwise required; and

* compel any peace officer to enforce an order.

 

Provincial assistance

*On Mar. 23, the province announced a $5 billion emergency relief fund to help workers and businesses hurt by COVID-19, including $2.8 billion to help individuals and $2.2 billion for businesses. 

*A one-time tax-free $1,000 payment to people who qualify for EI emergency benefits (including self-employed).

*Increase in B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit.

*Freezing of B.C.l student loan payments until Sept. 30.

*Job-protected leave for people unable to work related to COVID-19, retroactive to Jan. 27, when the first presumptive case was confirmed in B.C.

*Three days of job-protected, unpaid sick leave unrelated to COVID-19 per year.

*$1.7 billion for housing and shelter supports, income and disability insurance, quarantine costs, lab tests, First Nations Health Authority work, and the Better at Home seniors home support program.

*Continued funding of daycares if they are closed, and all spots saved for children who must be kept home; enhanced funding for daycares staying open for children of parents providing essential services.

*Payment deferral programs at ICBC and BC Hydro. People dealing with job loss, illness or loss of wages due to COVID-19 may qualify for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund for up to $600.

*Extended tax filing deadlines and delayed payment deadlines of PST filing; deferred deadlines for carbon tax and motor fuel tax, among others, and delayed increase of carbon tax. 

*$1.5 billion held for economic recovery in the future.

For more information on B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0013-000545

 

Federal assistance

* The federal government alloted $275M for research into vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

* The federal government announced financial aid for farmers and agri-food business.

* On March 21, 2020, the federal government announced new measures to provide support for Canadians at home or abroad, as well as support for international students, seasonal agricultural workers and other temporary foreign workers.

* The federal government has increased eligibility for EI programs, allowing the self-employed to apply under certain circumstances (ex. if they are sick or caring for a child).  The feds are also deferring the income tax deadline and amounts owing. For businesses they are providing a 10% wage subsidy and deferring payments owing.

* For more on federal measures visit canada.ca

 

Orders for travellers

* Closure of the Canada-U.S. border to all non-essential traffic going into effect Saturday, March 21, midnight

* banning entry of all foreign nationals by air travel from all countries;

* consolidating international inbound flights to four major hubs only, including Vancouver International Airport (YVR);

* preventing symptomatic passengers from boarding a plane to Canada;

* strengthening in-flight medical procedures and medical screening immediately upon landing, with enhanced cleaning and disinfection at airports;

* support for impacted Canadians abroad; and

* 14-day self-isolation for all arrivals except for essential work.

* Global Affairs Canada has set up an emergency loan program for people abroad attempting to return to Canada.

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