Further details -
Maintaining the supply chain for essential goods and services
* A new, Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit will co-ordinate goods and services distribution in partnership with industry.
* The Province will take a more active role in co-ordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail. All air services required to transport essential goods, services or personnel shall be managed through establishing of a Coordinated Provincial Air Service.
* Any bylaws that restrict goods delivery at any time of day are suspended.
* The Province will identify and take control of warehouses and other facilities for gathering supplies and resources if required.
* The resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning products and other essential supplies is prohibited.
* The Province will work with retailers and industry to restrict quantities of certain items purchased at point of sale to make sure there is enough supply for those who need them.
* Municipal bylaw officers are enabled to be re-deployed to support enforcement of the provincial health officer's orders and directives carrying fines of over $25,000 or jail, to be determined by the courts under the authority of the Public Health Act.
* Direct passenger and car ferry operators, in consultation with the Province, will provide minimum service levels and priority access for residents, and essential goods and workers.
Protecting the most vulnerable
* Regulatory and administrative barriers will be removed to make it easier to support critical services for vulnerable people, like food banks and shelters.
* Evictions due to loss of income related to COVID-19 that would otherwise be allowed under the Residential Tenancy Act will be prevented or suspended.
Better emergency response and recovery co-ordination
* All orders issued under local states of emergency under COVID-19 will be suspended and local governments will activate their emergency plans.
* The City of Vancouver's state of emergency orders remain. Going forward, the city will require permission to issue further new orders under its state of emergency.
* Public facilities, like community centres, will be identified to be used for pandemic response: self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing and distribution.
* Mutual aid agreements will be put in place for first responders.
* Local governments will be given the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions.
* Local governments will be directed to develop business continuity plans and advanced planning for other emergencies, such as freshet flooding and wildfires.
* On the direction of the Province, a hotel operator or commercial lodging operator must provide accommodation services for the purposes of self-isolation, supporting essential workforces or for other purposes identified by the Province.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, is using extraordinary powers under a state of provincial emergency to keep British Columbians safe, maintain essential goods and services, and support the Province's ongoing response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
"B.C. is in a strong position to effectively respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Farnworth. "Informed by the direction of the provincial health officer, we're taking these critical steps to keep our communities safe, goods moving and essential service workers supported."
Using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act, the minister is issuing a series of ministerial orders to ensure a co-ordinated response to COVID-19 across all levels of government for the duration of the provincial emergency. These include:
* Supply chain: Establishing a new Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit to co-ordinate goods and services distribution; taking a more active role in co-ordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail; and suspending any bylaws that restrict goods delivery at any time of day.
* Protecting consumers: Banning the secondary resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other essential supplies; and restricting quantities of items purchased at point of sale.
* Enforcement: Enabling municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the provincial health officer's orders for business closures and gatherings, in line with offences under the Public Health Act.
* Travel: Ensuring all passenger and car-ferry services provide minimum service levels and priority access for residents, and essential goods and workers.
* Protecting B.C.'s most vulnerable: Making it easier to support critical services for vulnerable people, like food banks and shelters.
* Co-ordination: Suspending local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, except for the City of Vancouver; giving municipal councils the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions; and co-ordinating potential use of local publicly owned facilities, like community centres, for self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing, and distribution.
These unprecedented steps, made based on the recommendation of B.C.'s health and emergency management officials and invoked for the first time under a provincial state of emergency, will support the provincial health officer and minister of health in a co-ordinated cross-government approach to COVID-19 response and recovery.
The Merritt RCMP are currently investigating a string of break and enters that occurred on March 23, early in the morning.
“The businesses were all located in the downtown core and police believe they were likely committed by the same culprit or culprits. Police are currently reviewing video surveillance that has been collected from the area and our Forensic Identification Section is in the process of examining items in relation to the break and enters,” wrote Hedrick.
“The Merritt RCMP is asking everyone to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. This is especially important in these trying times. We all have a part to play in keeping our community safe. We all need to look out for one another and to alert police to suspicious activity immediately,” added Hedrick.
The Merritt RCMP are asking anyone with information in relation to these incidents to call the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262 or to contact Crime Stoppers.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:
"We are announcing 42 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 659 cases in British Columbia.
"One additional residential care home now has a confirmed case - a health-care worker at the Broadway Pentecostal Lodge in the Vancouver Coastal health region. Public health officials are providing support to implement outbreak protocols.
"It is with sadness we share that one more resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre has passed away. That brings us to a total of 14 people who have died after testing positive for COVID-19. We extend our condolences to their loved ones.
"Every health region in British Columbia has patients with COVID-19: 339 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 218 are in the Fraser Health region, 47 are in the Vancouver Island Health region, 46 are in the Interior Health region and nine are in the Northern Heath region.
"Additionally, of the total COVID-19 cases, 64 individuals are currently hospitalized, 26 of those in hospital are in intensive care and the remaining people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
"One hundred and eighty-three patients with COVID-19 are now considered fully recovered and no longer have isolation requirements.
"An order is in place prohibiting gatherings larger than 50 people. This is not an order of convenience, but a requirement to protect everyone in our province - especially our elders and those most vulnerable to severe illness - from COVID-19.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has provided the latest figures of COVID-19 in BC.
(Previous numbers in brackets)
New Cases – 42
Total Cases – 659 (617)
Patients in Hospital – 64 (59)
Patients in ICU – 26 (23)
Recovered – 183 (173)
New Deaths – 1
Totals Deaths – 14 (13)
Health region breakdown;
Vancouver Coastal – 339 (330)
Fraser – 218 (194)
Island – 47 (44)
Interior – 46(41)
Northern – 9 (9)
Dr. Bonnie Henry did not make any new public health orders.
more to come
The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health. The full list of immediate measures includes:
* The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords.
* Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
* Halting the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.
* Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.
* Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
* Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).
* Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
To support people and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions.
The new rental supplement will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent, building on federal and provincial financial supports already announced for British Columbians facing financial hardship.
"With lost jobs and lost wages due to COVID-19, many tenants are worried they can't make the rent. It's a challenging time for landlords too," said Premier John Horgan. "Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19. Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords. It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency."
The funds will support renters experiencing a loss of income by helping them pay their rent and will be paid directly to landlords on their behalf, to ensure landlords continue to receive rental income during the pandemic. Benefiting people with low to moderate incomes, this supplement will be available to renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.
School District 58 Nicola Similkameen is following the lead of the City of Merritt and is announcing the closure of all school playgrounds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district made the announcement this morning.
In a proactive measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, SD58 in coordination with the Town of Princeton and the City of Merritt have closed all playgrounds to the public.
The closures will take effect immediately and include both Merritt and Princeton locations.
The reasoning behind the closures is due to playgrounds being high-touch surfaces which could help led to the transmission of the illness.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt