‘You’re better than that,’ B.C. premier tells young people gathering amid COVID-19

‘You’re better than that,’ B.C. premier tells young people gathering amid COVID-19

VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan says young people are not immune to COVID-19 and he’s appealing to their better judgment to help stop the rise in cases in the province.

Horgan said Thursday that despite an uptick in cases among young people, the province does not plan to pursue punitive measures against crowds who gathered for a drum circle on a Vancouver beach or others who break public health protocols.

Instead, the government plans to continue its strategy of asking British Columbians to act responsibly after a recent surge in cases.

“If you’re going to have a party, if you’re going to have some fun, keep it to the people you know,” Horgan said.

If someone from outside your circle is participating, keep your distance because you don’t know how many people that person has been in contact with.

“Young people are not immune, young people are not invincible. All of us are in this together.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has called a recent hike in cases a wake-up call to remain vigilant against the virus.

She announced on Thursday 30 more cases and one death in a long-term care facility for a total of 190 fatalities around the province.

Around 1,000 people across B.C. are self-isolating because of an outbreak in Kelowna that health officials believe began with private parties at hotels around Canada Day.

Horgan said he was disappointed to view footage of gatherings in Kelowna and Vancouver.

“Come on, you’re better than that,” he said.

He said he expects young people will share their stories of infection on social media and he encouraged anyone who sees their peers acting outside of the guidelines to speak up.

Despite the jump in infections, Horgan said he does not believe the province began reopening too quickly. British Columbia’s numbers remain low relative to neighbouring Washington state, which is recording more than 800 new cases daily and Alberta, which is averaging more than 100, he said.

The premier said he is encouraged that federal authorities are imposing “hefty fines” on American boaters found docking in British Columbia.

Horgan said British Columbians should be prepared for further restrictions in the fall, as the weather turns, and people spend more time indoors.

“Absolutely, people should be thinking about what the future holds for them as individuals and as communities. Our plan is to continue to monitor and ask people to behave appropriately, keep in small groups wherever possible.”

Henry said the province will issue an order in the coming days to limit the number of people and guests in rental properties and on houseboats across B.C.

“The onus falls on the owner-operators to ensure the restrictions are followed and we can ensure that with local bylaws and public-health enforcement as well,” she said, adding restrictions will be based on the size of a space.

Henry said part of the rationale is to prevent spread from parties, as has been the case recently in Kelowna.

Making masks mandatory in indoor spaces would only be warranted if there is a sufficient spread of the virus in the community, she said, calling that a “heavy-handed approach.”

“It is the least effective of the many layers we have,” she said of measures such as handwashing and physical distancing, adding many people are choosing to wear masks in stores and on transit.

Also on Thursday, Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced further details of $2.2 billion earmarked for British Columbia as part of the Safe Restart Agreement.

Under the plan, Ottawa will contribute $540 million in transit funding for British Columbia, which Horgan said the province will match.

“We’re going to match that dollar for dollar to make sure that we can keep the system going without putting more burden on local users or local governments,” Horgan said.

— By Amy Smart and Camille Bains in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A home on Montana First Nation was damaged by fire in the early hours on Dec. 2, 2020. (Chevi Rabbit/Submitted)
House fires on Samson Cree Nation under investigation

Two separate fires took place in the early hours of Dec. 2

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin launches Whistle-blower Program

Whistle-blower program acts as anonymous forum to hold local government accountable

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Most Read