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Public Health Emergency DeclaredUnion of British Columbia Municipalities
VICTORIA - Provincial officials have declared a public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement gives the Public Health Officer special powers under the Public Health Act, including the ability to issue verbal orders and the power to compel peace officers to enforce those orders.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer, emphasized the need for all British Columbians to practice social distancing by maintaining a two-metre space from others in public areas. In her first verbal order, Dr. Henry ordered that all bars and nightclubs (liquor primary) be closed immediately until further notice, saying that she did not believe such businesses could provide the required distance between patrons necessary to prevent transmission. Dr. Henry also indicated restaurants that were unable to provide effective social distancing, either through take out options or seating arrangements, should also close.
As of yesterday, March 17th, 86 cases of COVID-19 had been identified in British Columbia, leading to seven deaths.