British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 20, 2020

Metro Vancouver's transit authority announced Monday morning it is laying off almost 1,500 employees and reducing bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express services.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will give her next update at 3 p.m. PT

A Vancouver police officer wearing a protective face mask walks along East Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside on April 15. (Ben Nelms/CBC)


  • 52 new cases over a two day reporting period for a total of 1,699.
  • 5 new deaths reported for a total of 86.
  • 104 people are in hospital. 49 in critical care.
  • B.C.'s top doctor says anyone with symptoms can now be tested for COVID-19.
  • A new outbreak has been confirmed at Chartwell Willow, a long-term care facility.
  • This year's Celebration of Light fireworks show has been cancelled.
  • TransLink has announced almost 1,500 layoffs and reduced services to save costs.
  •  B.C. announced a new framework for health care in rural, remote and Indigenous communities
  • Police now have the power to issue $2,000 fines for reselling and gouging prices for medical supplies.
  • The annual 420 cannabis celebration in Vancouver is being held virtually today.
  • 14 people were arrested after occupying a Vancouver elementary school for "emergency housing."
  • Island Music Festival has been cancelled.
  • The province will provide an update on COVID-19 cases in B.C. Tuesday at 3 p.m.

As of Monday, B.C. has 1,699 confirmed cases of the virus.  Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that 5 more people have died for a total of 86 deaths from the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A new outbreak has been reported at Chartwell Willow, a retirement community in Maple Ridge.

Henry says 104 people are now in hospital, 49 of whom remain in intensive care.

She has also ordered B.C. workers returning from the Kearl Lake project in northern Alberta to self-isolate after seven of them tested positive for COVID-19.

So far, 1,039 people have fully recovered from the coronavirus.

TransLink says it is losing $75 million per month due to a decrease in ridership and other expenses during COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

TransLink layoffs

Metro Vancouver's transit authority announced Monday morning it is laying off almost 1,500 employees and reducing bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express services.

TransLink said it was making several changes in its operating structure in a bid to lessen financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The salaries of senior executives are also being reduced and maintenance, rehabilitation and expansion projects are being postponed. TransLink says it's also reaching into its cash reserves to sustain essential service.

The authority says it is losing $75 million per month as ridership dropped by 83 per cent.

New health-care framework

The province is implementing a new healthcare framework for rural, remote and Indigenous communities to improve access to critical and culturally appropriate healthcare during COVID-19.

Improvements will include better modes of land and air transportation including 55 new ambulances.

A statement from the government says the new framework will remain flexible "so local leaders in rural, remote and Indigenous communities can adapt it to meet their unique needs."

Housing options within communities will be provided for those who need to self-isolate.

Virtual health care will also become more accessible.

The annual 420 protest at Sunset Beach in Vancouver has been cancelled and is instead being hosted virtually. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

420 event goes virtual

The annual 420 cannabis celebration, which normally draws thousands of people to Sunset Beach in Vancouver's West End on April 20, has been cancelled. It will instead be hosted virtually.

Vancouver police said officers are still monitoring locations where smaller groups of people may gather, despite physical distancing measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"There is no group or area that has organized for any specific location, but we will be monitoring the traditional locations of Sunset Beach and the art gallery," said Sgt. Aaron Roed in a statement emailed to CBC News. "VPD officers will also be monitoring any location that may pop up as a grouping location."

Last year, police reported about 60,000 people attended the event. 

A group of approximately 30 homeless people and supporters are occupying Lord Strathcona Elementary School in East Vancouver. (Matthew McFarlane/CBC News)

School break-in ends with arrests

Vancouver police arrested 14 people on Saturday after a group of community members of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside broke into Lord Strathcona Elementary School to use it for what they called "emergency housing."

Spokespeople for the group said the action was taken because it was impossible for thousands of homeless people to follow the provincial government's instructions to stay home amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Police said they will pursue break-and-enter charges against the individuals arrested. 

Celebration of Light cancelled

Organizers of Vancouver's popular Honda Celebration of Light event announced it has been cancelled. The fireworks celebration has been an English Bay tradition for 30 years.

Organizers say they are exploring options for a different type of celebration in 2020. 

"We hope to be able to make an announcement very soon," said The Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society and BrandLive in a statement.

New enforcement measures

Over the weekend, B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety announced new enforcement measures for people who don't follow provincial guidelines during the state of emergency. Mike Farnworth said he has now enabled police to issue $2,000 fines for people engaged in price gouging and reselling of medical supplies.

Farnworth said Consumer Protection B.C. has received more than 800 reports complaining about price gouging. 

People who fail to self-quarantine after returning from travel can also face fines. 

Farnworth said there is no plan to close down public spaces at beaches and in parks, as most people are complying with physical distancing.

The latest COVID-19 numbers

As of Saturday, B.C. had 1,647 confirmed cases of the virus and 81 people had died. A total of 987 people have recovered and 115 people are in hospital, including 54 in intensive care.

The province says that if the number of people with active novel coronavirus infections continues on its downward trend, some currently restricted activities could be allowed as early as a month from now.

Until then, officials say British Columbians can't let up on strict physical distancing measures and diligent hand washing to halt the spread of COVID-19.

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Important reminders:

Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. 

The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.

What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 4 a.m. PT on Monday, provinces and territories had reported 35,056 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths, based on provincial and regional health data, as well as CBC's reporting, listed 1,647 coronavirus-related deaths in Canada. There have been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad.

The numbers are not a complete picture, as they don't account for people who haven't been tested, those being investigated as a potential case and people still waiting for test results. 

For a look at what's happening across the country and the world, check the CBC interactive case tracker.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority or 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

Find information about COVID-19 from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Non-medical information about COVID-19 is available in B.C. from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. PT, seven days a week at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick.
  • When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Masks won't fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at