By Laura Keil

Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, has ordered that personal service establishments, such as (but not limited to) nail salons, tattoo parlours, barbershops, beauty parlours, health spas and massage parlours must close until further notice.

“These services require direct, personal contact with other people, and that is impossible to deliver while maintaining appropriate distancing,” a government press release said.

Henry also issued a directive for parents to keep their children away from playgrounds to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19.

The B.C. government also announced today support and relief for the province’s most vulnerable and those living in BC Housing. Measures include

* a ban on evictions for non-payment of rent in BC Housing-funded buildings;
* the development of protocols and identifying sites to support isolation for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness – sheltered or unsheltered – and those in private single room occupancy (SROs) and social housing buildings;
* sustaining service providers through continued payments to ensure they can pay their staff and operating costs; and
* centralized procurement for critical supplies needed by frontline providers, including gloves and cleaning products.

The B.C. government is also taking steps to support the child care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increasing payments to childcare centres. Centres that remain open are eligible to receive seven times their average monthly funding from government, which is expected to cover approximately 75% of a group facility’s average monthly operating expenses. Child care providers closed due to COVID-19 are eligible to receive two times their average monthly funding from government, which is expected to cover approximately 20% of an average group facility’s monthly operating expenses for things like rent/lease/mortgage during the temporary closure.

Cases known as of 3pm Saturday March 21st:

* Total confirmed cases in B.C.: 424
* New cases since March 20, 2020: 76
* Hospitalized cases: 27
* Intensive care: 12
* Deaths: 10
* Recovered: 6

Confirmed cases by region:

* Vancouver Coastal Health: 230
* Fraser Health: 126
* Island Health: 37
* Interior Health: 27
* Northern Health: 4