British Columbia

No return to normal in B.C. 'for some time,' Dr. Bonnie Henry says

A return to normal life may still be a long way off for B.C. and it will depend on people staying at home, washing their hands and maintaining physical distances, according to the provincial health officer.

'We are not at the end of our beginning yet'

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she doesn't foresee lifting of the restrictions on daily life for weeks yet. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A return to normal life may still be a long way off for B.C. and it will depend on people staying at home, washing their hands and maintaining physical distances, according to the provincial health officer.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that while B.C. has managed to hold COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations to manageable levels, "we are not at the end of our beginning yet."

She said she doesn't foresee any lifting of the restrictions on daily life within the next two weeks or even three weeks.

"Normal is going to look quite different for some time," Henry said.

"There are some measures that we are not going to be able to stop doing until we have enough immunity in our community ... to prevent transmission and to prevent a lot of people from becoming sick in a short time."

That immunity can only come one of two ways — through infection or through development of a vaccine. Until then, physical distancing and frequent handwashing will remain the norm.

Henry said she doesn't foresee any changes to how British Columbians go grocery shopping or visit the pharmacy in the near future.

"It's important for us to be patient and to be kind to each other. It is going to be some weeks before we can let up even a little bit," she said.

'So many people have sacrificed so much'

But planning is underway for how certain restrictions could be loosened, beginning with things like restarting certain parts of the health-care system that have been put on hold and reopening some businesses that can operate with safe distances between people.

Henry said any major changes will depend on things like ensuring there's enough personal protective equipment for health-care workers and enough capacity in the health-care system.

It will also mean implementing broader COVID-19 testing in the community, and potentially bringing in serological testing to determine who has developed immunity through infection.

Health Minister Adrian Dix emphasized that the only way B.C. can begin opening up again is if the curve of infection is truly flattened.

"When so many people have sacrificed so much, sometimes by choice, sometimes not by choice, we really have to be 100 per cent all in now," he said.

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

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