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'There is light ahead': Dr. Henry tells British Columbians to look to veterans for hope during the COVID-19 pandemic

Henry mentioned that she, like many other Canadians, has served in the military.
Dr. Bonnie Henry. (via Flickr/Province of BC)

"It's not forever, but it is for now."

In today's provincial briefing, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry emphasized the importance of doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 over the next two weeks. 

"We also ask every business across the province, not just in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health areas, to revisit your COVID-19 safety plans. We've said this a few weeks ago and I am reiterating.

"Now is the time to do everything you can to ensure you are protecting your employees, and your customers and businesses operating in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health," said Henry. 

Henry added that public health inspectors will be "stepping up inspections" in high-risk areas such as food processing plants. However, she adds that employers must make sure their employees do self-assessment checks and follow a safety plan. 

"We know now, we must ensure that all of your employees are doing a health check before they come into work every day. And there are many ways that you can do that by actively using apps virtual check-ins with people, but we want to make sure that all of us are staying healthy and only going into work when we can," she said.

"We need everybody who comes into work every day to say, 'Yes, I did my symptom check, and I am okay to be here today.' And if in doubt, stay home."

A Note on Remembrance Day 

As Remembrance Day approaches in British Columbia, the provincial health officer notes that residents should look to our veterans as a source of inspiration during difficult, unprecedented times. Henry mentioned that she, like many other Canadians, has served in the military. However, she mentions that many people know someone in their family or community who has served. 

"We have been through hard times before, and Remembrance Day is a time for us to remember that," said. "Remember that we have been through these hard times, and we can and we will prevail. We can and we will overcome."

Henry noted that British Columbians can look ahead with optimism this Remembrance Day: "The fact that people have come through world wars that lasted for years, but that we came back as a society we're able to support each other, and we have had peace.

"Those are the things that we need to remember this week. We need to protect our veterans on Remembrance Day, and we need to look ahead with optimism. It may be dark now, but there is light ahead.

"And we will do it by going through this together. By being kind to each other, being calm and staying safe."

New Public Health Order 

The new provincial health orders restrict social gatherings of any size with anyone outside of your immediate household, as well as indoor group physical activities, including yoga, spin, group fitness and dance classes.

Basically, indoor locations "where people are increasing their heart rate," Henry said. "We have seen repeatedly, not just here, but around the world, that these are venues that we see rapid spread of this virus, even with people who don't recognize that they are ill."

That ban also applies to indoor competitions and games where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including sports such as minor hockey. However, Henry said, "these activities can be replaced with the individual exercise of practice and drills," as B.C. similarly permitted prior to the province's restart of its sports programs, so long as it "allows everyone to maintain safe physical distancing." 

Public health officials are also recommending "in the very strongest terms" that British Columbians avoid travel into and out of the two health regions. "We need to go back to what we were doing in March and April and May, where it was essential travel only," Henry said. 

That includes a ban on travelling into or outside of the two health regions for sports, for the time being. 

Restaurants are permitted to remain open for the time being, on the condition that each establishment adheres to COVID-19 safety plans. If that isn't possible, Henry suggested that they revert to take-out only service.

Party buses and limousines are also ordered to cease operations for the two-week period. 

--With files from Megan Lalonde.