B.C. still mulling lockdown on non-essential businesses

B.C. Premier John Horgan | Credit: B.C. government livestream

What happened: B.C. looks unlikely to follow Ontario’s lead and close non-essential businesses at this point, according to Premier John Horgan

Why it matters: Many non-essential businesses have already been ordered closed by the province, slowing the economy amid the pandemic

B.C. Premier John Horgan appeared reluctant Monday (March 23) to follow suit with Ontario’s orders to shut down all non-essential workplaces to stop the spread of COVID-19.

However, Horgan said he’s not prepared “to rule out anything.”

“Saying ‘lockdown,’ saying ‘shutdown’ is really easy to do but it’s really difficult to do in reality,” he said during a media briefing in Victoria after Finance Minister Carole James outlined the province’s economic response to the pandemic.

The B.C. premier, who addressed British Columbians during the noon hour, has a first ministers teleconference scheduled with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later in the day.

Horgan said he and the other premiers are sharing best practices at all times, but he remains concerned the use of terms like lockdown and shutdown would sow confusion among British Columbians.

“Making sure that those individuals critically important to the delivery of health services to people that are vulnerable, which is our highest priority right now, we need to make sure that there’s a clear understanding. We do need health-care workers to be in place, we’re grateful that they’re stepping up, we do need people working in our retail sector to make sure we’re getting goods and services to people that desperately need them,” he said.

“All of that requires a methodical, thoughtful, science-based approach and it may well be satisfying to say we’re going to shut something down but we need to make sure that we’re doing it in a way that makes sense.”

Earlier Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said non-essential businesses would have to shut down for at least 14 days beginning 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday (March 24).

What the province defines to be essential vs. non-essential is still being determined.

torton@biv.com

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