BREAKING: B.C. declares public health emergency, orders all bars and clubs to shut down - InfoNews

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BREAKING: B.C. declares public health emergency, orders all bars and clubs to shut down

In this file photo, Public Health Officer Bonnie Henry speaks a press conference in January.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
March 17, 2020 - 3:46 PM

The B.C. government has ordered all bars and clubs to close in the province due to COVID-19.

The move is backed by new powers the province's public health officer can now enforce after the province today declared a public health emergency.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the measure at a press conference this afternoon, March 17.

The new move allows restaurants to remain open only if they can provide enough room to allow for "social distancing" meaning they can keep people six feet away from each other and no more than 50 people gathered at once. Dr. Henry said people need to keep one to two metres away from each other, describing this as individuals being at arm's length "fingertip to fingertip"  from one another. The government can now also enforce an order for people coming back from abroad to remain in self-isolation for 14 days.

The moves are part of sweeping powers that allow the Provincial Health Officer to enforce measures without the need of lawmakers.

The new closures came as Dr. Henry also announced three more COVID-19 deaths and 183 cases in the province, the majority of which are in the Lower Mainland. Seven of those cases are with Interior Health Authority's region. Dr. Henry said there had been 83 new COVID-19 cases since yesterday. Currently, seven people are in hospital, and four of those are in intensive care, the remainder are in self-isolation at home.

Dr. Henry said the majority of people do not need to be tested and can take the government's online self-assessment tool. Since the COVID-19 self-assessment tool was launched March 16, she said 500,000 had used it.

To access the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool go here.

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