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The B.C. government has extended the provincial state of emergency until June 23

June 11, 2020

Officials also noted that their ban on gatherings of more than 50 people will remain in place during the second phase, and said gatherings of 50 are only allowed when physical distancing is possible and other measures are in place to reduce the risk of transmission. Henry said events that are held inside and in smaller venues, it may only be appropriate to have "many, many fewer than 50."

Nightclubs, bars and casinos are unlikely to reopen any time soon, and the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people will remain in place. Conventions, large concerts and live audiences at team sports are out of the question, and Horgan said road trips and non-essential travel to other communities should still be avoided.

The province first declared a state of emergency in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on March 18.

The province must legally extend the declaration every two weeks. The state of emergency is now the longest in B.C.’s history.

(Horgan told reporters recently there is “no likely end in sight” for the state of emergency.)

RESTRICTIONS - GATHERINGS

· The characteristics of the event’s designated venue(s) (location, size/type, indoor/outdoor, crowd density, etc.)

· The number and key characteristics of the expected participants in the event (age, health status, provenance, international/local travel to event, etc.)

· The expected interactions among participants occurring during the event (closeness of contact, etc.)

· The expected duration of the event

· The capacity of the host country’s health system to detect and manage cases of COVID-19 in terms of policies, resources, and capacities

· "It won't be the flipping of a switch. We'll be proceeding carefully bit by bit, one step at a time," Premier John Horgan said.

("If we lose this discipline, everything we've worked towards will be lost." John Horgan)

VANCOUVER --Health officials in British Columbia are sharing more guidelines for how people should go about increasing their social interactions when the province enters the second phase of its pandemic response.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed that "fewer faces" and "bigger spaces" are the best ways to keep B.C.'s COVID-19 caseload low when people begin reconnecting with a select number of friends and family members.

While the government is going to allow small gatherings of two to six people, Henry said that doesn't mean it's OK to see a different two to six people every time.

"Make sure when you are going out, it's with one small group of people and only one small group of people," Henry said. "Don't change it up every day. That's not going to be helpful right now. You need to commit to each other for the coming weeks and months that you're going to protect each other and care for each other."

When it comes to seeing people in person, Henry stressed that meeting outdoors is preferable to meeting inside. The increased risks of socializing indoors should be mitigated by keeping distance when possible, and also by having shorter visits, the provincial health officer added.

She also asked people not to "share things like drinks or fries" to avoid transmitting the virus.

Each new person that is welcomed into one's "bubble" brings new risk of transmitting the virus, which is why officials encourage people to make thoughtful decisions about who they are going to see face-to-face during the coming phase.

And Henry reiterated that people whose bubble already includes seniors or people with ongoing health conditions that make them vulnerable to severe infection should be particularly cautious.

The provincial health officer addressed teenagers specifically, many of whom are struggling to stay isolated from their friends, particularly as they transition from high school into the next stage of their lives.

She thanked them for their commitment to socializing virtually during the first phase of B.C.'s response, and urged them not to overextend themselves as the rules are relaxed.

"Find those people that it's important for you to spend that time with and keep them small and consistent," she said. "Make an agreement with them that you'll be part of their bubble and they can be part of yours. The more people you see the more chance that somebody is going to have COVID-19 and they may not realize it."

Henry acknowledged the situation is complicated, but asked every British Columbian to try to be responsible for the greater good of the community.

"The path really is not black and white and that is the challenge we are all going to face," she said.

"We've never done this before and we all need to try and do our best within the important guidance that we have."

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