Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the future of restrictions for COVID-19 at the B.C. legislature, April 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the future of restrictions for COVID-19 at the B.C. legislature, April 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

Hints of COVID-19 relief for B.C. as restaurants, haircuts considered

‘Halfway point’ for Canada, three months after B.C.’s first case

Almost three months after B.C. recorded its first case of COVID-19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is preparing for a “second phase” of health restrictions that eases restrictions on people and the economy.

Repeating her warning that some precautions against the novel coronavirus could be in place for a year, Henry said in her April 23 briefing that Canada and B.C. have reached the peak or “halfway point” of the pandemic. Henry said the target as Premier John Horgan prepares for an early-May address to the province on moving into the summer is a “manageable number” of daily cases, but she continued her policy of avoiding firm predictions of numbers or dates.

ALSO READ: Plan in the works for safe re-opening of B.C. restaurants amid COVID-19: BCRFA

“In several places around the world, including here in Canada, we’re at that or past that halfway point,” said Henry, who serves on a national committee with federal chief health officer Dr. Theresa Tam. “We have been fortunate in many ways in BC in that we have not had a dramatic increase – that accelerated upswing that we saw in many other places.

“And we need to continue to look at how we manage our pandemic in B.C. And we manage that risk going forward by opening up industry, by opening up our hospital system, but doing it in a way that includes vigilance and careful thinking, and it doesn’t mean that the virus is going away. To start doing that, we need to reach a manageable number of new cases.”

B.C.’s first recorded case of COVID-19 was reported Jan. 28, 2020. B.C.’s first patient visited Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new virus was first identified, and reported symptoms after he returned to his home in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region. The man was aware of the risk and “self-isolated” after his return, Henry said.

Restrictions soon followed, with large gatherings like sporting events banned March 14, school closures a day later as spring break was running out, and bars, barbers, and sit-down restaurant services shut by March 20.

Asked almost daily about personal services such as hair and nail salons, Henry debunked the suggestion that they have been without public health oversight since B.C.’s historic Barber Act was repealed in 2003. They are inspected and public complaints are acted upon, she said.

“This is an opportunity for us to reinforce the importance of some of those measures in, whether it’s a hair salon, a nail salon, a tattoo parlour, all of those places where we get services that can pose a risk of infectious disease transmission,” Henry said.

RELATED: B.C.’s latest COVID-19 modelling shows curve flattening

RELATED: B.C. families welcoming babies in COVID-19 restrictions

Health Minister Adrian Dix has indicated his top priority is resuming some of the 14,000 scheduled surgeries that have been postponed in the pandemic. After clearing 4,000 acute-care hospital beds and setting up new space in Vancouver and New Westminster to brace for severe COVID-19 cases, acute and intensive care admissions have peaked at fewer than 150 and have declined in recent days.

Henry has indicated that medical services such as physiotherapy are key to post-operative treatment for people undergoing procedures such as hip and knee replacement, the largest category of cancelled surgeries. Dentistry has been reduced to emergency only, but the longer basic care is suspended the more severe conditions will accumulate.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Patricia Taylor and Debra Strut at the Salvation Army on Friday, Nov. 27, handing out winter boots and gift bags to those in need. Taylor says they'll be back until all her supplies are gone.(Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville residents distribute gifts and winter boots in Salvation Army parking lot

‘I’m hoping to open the eyes of the community to realize that everybody has value’

Qualicum Beach resident Harold MacDougall won $75,000 off a Casino Royale II Scratch & Win ticket, purchased the ticket at Qualicum Foods on Memorial Avenue. (BCLC photo)
Qualicum Beach man $75K richer thanks to scratch-and-win ticket windfall

MacDougall plans on trips to Cape Breton and Scotland

Regional District of Nanaimo will be receiving $1.17 million from the B.C. government in COVID-19 safe restart grant money. (News Bulletin file)
Regional District of Nanaimo directors getting started on budgeting decisions

Proposed tax requisitions for 2021 range from 7.3-per cent increase to 2.2-per cent decrease

David Darmadi, owner of Kalvas - The Log House restaurant, is offering a sweet initiative for SOS. Guests can bring in a new, unwrapped gift or financial donation for SOS, and receive a free dessert. (Lissa Alexander photo)
Sweet initiative to support Parksville Qualicum Beach residents

‘A lot of our guests are very generous and they want to help out’

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read