Two men wearing protective face masks as they walk past boarded up shops in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Two men wearing protective face masks as they walk past boarded up shops in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Businesses must be part of the re-opening plan when COVID-19 rules relax: Dr. Henry

Staying home when sick will be key, B.C.’s top doctor says

Non-essential services need to plan for how to re-open safely as the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic flattens in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday (April 21).

The provincial health officer made the comment while answering questions about B.C. opening up some services that have closed due to COVID-19 risk. As of Tuesday, there were 596 active confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

While health officials have repeatedly said restrictions will remain fully in place for April, and are unlikely to loosen in May, Henry said businesses need to get ready to figure out how – and if – they can re-open in the “new normal” that B.C. will live with until a vaccine is developed.

Although most health-care providers, including dentists, have been deemed essential amid the pandemic, many have shut their doors as well or taken to telehealth, as in the case of some physiotherapists. Personal services, including spas and salons, have been closed in B.C. since March 21.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor orders immediate closure of salons, spas and other personal services

“We need to do it in the context that recognizes that we are at risk as a community,” Henry said.

Some of the new measures could include not having patients or clients sitting all together in the waiting room, she noted, as well as proper hand hygiene and plexiglass barriers.

“We may not be able to see as many people in a day but we have to do it in a way where we have the appropriate protections in place.”

The key to stopping outbreaks will be staying home when sick, Henry reiterated, whether it’s staff, patients or customers.

“A couple of outbreaks we have had recently have expanded because people have not paid attention to even having mild illness,” she said.

Staff working in client-facing roles where full physical distancing is not possible will have to take even more precautions to limit their contacts outside the workplace.

“If I’m working in a higher-risk environment… then I need to still be vigilant at home that I’m not having lots of connections, because I’m more likely to get sick, more likely to bring it into my practice or bring it back into my family life,” Henry said.

That balance will have to be maintained until a vaccine is created – something that could take more than a year.

Henry said when the vaccine comes, health-care workers, seniors and other vulnerable groups will get priority. In a poll released Tuesday by Research Co., 73 per cent of British Columbians said they would get the vaccine after it was developed.

“We do have plans across the province for mass vaccination clinics,” she said.

“I would not see us having mandatory immunization for this.”

READ MORE: ‘Every action counts’: B.C. reports 1 new death, 25 new cases of COVID-19

READ MORE: Patients returning to B.C. hospitals as COVID-19 cases level off


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwalikum Secondary School. (SD69 photo)
COVID-19 case confirmed at Qualicum Beach high school

Public health staff are completing contact tracing

Adam Walker visits the VI Free Daily/PQB News studios. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Adam Walker eager to get to work as Parksville-Qualicum MLA

Podcast: Longtime Qualicum Beach resident discusses politics, much more

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

(File photo)
Parksville Qualicum Beach crime report: Crooks hit businesses, vehicles

Oceanside RCMP received 288 complaints in one-week period

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read