B.C. premier promises to come down 'like a ton of bricks' on COVID-19 rule-breakers
John Horgan urges those following the rules to dig deeper but acknowledges 'COVID exhaustion' for many
B.C. Premier John Horgan has promised those ignoring COVID-19 public health orders that officials will "come down on you like a ton of bricks," but no new penalties or enforcement measures have been announced.
During his weekly briefing on the pandemic Wednesday, the premier spoke about his disappointment with people who hold parties in their penthouse apartments or refuse to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
"You better behave appropriately … or we'll come down on you like a ton of bricks," Horgan said.
He specifically addressed the accusations against former Great Canadian Gaming Corporation CEO Rod Baker and his wife, actress Ekaterina Baker, who allegedly chartered a plane to the remote Yukon community of Beaver Creek and posed as motel employees to get vaccine doses.
"I believe there is nothing more un-Canadian than travelling to another jurisdiction to jump the line for vaccinations," Horgan said.
The allegations against the Bakers came up repeatedly during the press conference, and the premier described their alleged actions as the last thing he expected as a leader.
"You can't measure the contempt that British Columbians have for that individual," Horgan said.
No quarantine for out-of-province
Wednesday's briefing did not include any new enforcement measures for the public health orders that are currently in place, though Horgan said that in a cabinet meeting earlier in the day, he spoke with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth about the issue.
But Horgan said B.C. is not considering following Manitoba's lead in implementing a mandatory 14-day quarantine order for people travelling here from other provinces, saying it's not recommended by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Horgan also suggested such a policy would be much more difficult to enforce in B.C. than in Manitoba, which he falsely claimed has only four roads in or out.
That answer didn't sit right with former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who was also the minister of health from 2004 to 2006 in the federal Liberal government of Paul Martin.
"Saying we have too many entry points therefore it's too difficult to manage isn't an answer that's acceptable to any British Columbian," Dosanjh told CBC.
'Dig down a little bit deeper'
Nearly a year after the first case was detected in B.C., the premier acknowledged that many in British Columbia are currently experiencing "COVID exhaustion" from the restrictions on daily life.
He said he understands those who have been following public health advice since the beginning are feeling worn out and frustrated with people who flout the rules.
Nonetheless, Horgan echoed Henry's message that everyone needs to try even harder to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus.
"Dig down a little bit deeper. Find that extra gear to get through the next number of weeks and months as we get our vaccine program up and running," the premier said.
But Dosanjh said the province needs to demonstrate it's doing its part, too.
"A government that's asking people to do more must itself do more in the areas where it can — and it isn't," he said
B.C. could implement mandatory masks in schools, for example, and introduce rapid testing in care homes, he said, measures that teachers and seniors' advocates have also called for.
Horgan said Henry will be revisiting the current public health orders on Feb. 2. The orders, which prohibit all social gatherings and events with anyone outside your immediate household, are set to expire on Feb. 5.
With files from Zahra Premji and Andrea Ross