In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbia has declared both a public health emergency pursuant to the Public Health Act, and a state of emergency under the Emergency Program Act.
The declaration of a public health emergency provides Dr. Bonnie Henry, the B.C. provincial health officer, with the power to issue verbal orders which have immediate effect and can be enforced by the police. Dr. Henry can also amend the Public Health Act without the legislature’s consent.
Amongst other orders and recommendations, individuals in British Columbia continue to be advised to maintain social distancing measures, including keeping approximately two metres apart from others. A list of orders may be found here.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, public transportation and utilities will continue to operate, but need to incorporate social distancing measures.
Declaring a state of emergency enables the BC government to exercise a variety of statutory powers, including limiting travel to or from any area of the province and to fix the prices of essential supplies. As of April 29, 2020, British Columbia’s state of emergency has been extended until May 12, 2020.
We will continue to update our clients with information as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this or other COVID-19 questions, or would like assistance developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s other COVID-19 website resources.