Plans to reopen B.C. economy in light of COVID-19 to be revealed next week: Horgan - InfoNews

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Plans to reopen B.C. economy in light of COVID-19 to be revealed next week: Horgan

Premier John Horgan speaks to reporters at a media briefing, April 9, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
April 29, 2020 - 2:51 PM

B.C. has deliberately not laid out its plans to reopen the economy out of fear it would send the wrong signal to the public that it’s safe to get back to normal, according to Premier John Horgan. But that will change next week when the province will start announcing its reopening plans.

“Why I’ve resisted... laying out programs late in April for some time in the distant future is when people see government starting to loosen the restrictions, they assume that’s game on, that’s the green light to proceed to regular activities,” Horgan said at a media briefing today, April 29.

“That is not the case. Dr. (Bonnie) Henry will be tabling the results of her modelling next week. We will take that to cabinet and that will form the final determinations on how our restart will begin.”

Horgan did announce the provincial state of emergency has been extended another two weeks.

He stressed that B.C. has the advantage over other provinces of not having shut down as much of its economy as they have. He pointed to Quebec’s announcement that it will reopen its construction sector in mid-May. B.C. never shut down construction.

And he praised the B.C. Restaurant Association for leading the way in providing its plans to reopen safely.

“The consuming public has to be comfortable and confident, when they go into a restaurant that they are going to be safe,” Horgan said. “Similarly, workers in that sector need that confidence as well. The only way we build that confidence is that we have a set of common protocols, common guidelines in place to protect workers, in place to protect consumers."

“We’ve seen this in the grocery sector and other retail operations where procedures and protocols and guidelines have been put in place to protect workers, of course, but also to protect the consuming public. That will not change as we outline our plans next week. In fact, that will be the foundation of the plan. How can you operate safely?”

He promised it would be a slow, methodical, phased-in approach.

Horgan also responded to a number of questions from reporters about the importance of paid sick leave so workers did not go to work when they are sick.

He does not want to put an extra burden on struggling employers and pointed out that emergency support programs are available to cover sick leave at this time. But those programs are temporary and long-term solutions must be found, he stressed.

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