"We'll just wait until the bell finishes."
It doesn't happen in every coronavirus press briefing in B.C., but if you've been listening to the updates since the onset of the pandemic, you've certainly heard a rather loud and disruptive bell go off while someone is speaking.
Oftentimes, B.C.'s top doctor will stop speaking and sort of smile and nod her head until the abrasive sound finishes its raucous ringing.
But the bell often goes off in the middle of rather important announcements and at some decidedly inappropriate times — which may have you wondering: why doesn't someone just prevent the sound from going off during live conferences?
B.C. Ministry of Health spokesperson Stephen May told Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone interview that the bell is "part of the regular programming" at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria where many of the weekly updates have been held.
The bell summons the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to get to meetings of cabinet or caucus, he explained, noting that its use is similar to "kids being called back to class at recess."
Additionally, the Legislature of British Columbia glossary states that "the ringing of the bells (chimes) signifies the following activities: sitting of the House (1 long chime), division or quorum in the Chamber (3 chimes), division or quorum in section A of Committee of Supply (4 chimes)."
There have been discussions regarding the disruptive nature of the bells during the press conferences, May added. But ultimately officials have decided to keep the regular ringing intact because it is needed to alert the rest of the people in the building.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in the last regularly-scheduled COVID-19 update for the foreseeable future on Thursday (March 10) that B.C. is at a transition phase in the pandemic where there is a lower risk to the public.
In other words, you won't be seeing the province's health officials as much in the weeks to come.
You also won't be hearing that bell — but you probably won't miss it.