Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth talks about seeking input on modernizing the Emergency Program Act calling upon emergency management practitioners, First Nations leaders, business and others during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 28, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Chad Hipolito)

Local states of emergency suspended as province co-ordinates COVID-19 efforts

The City of Armstrong and the Secwepemc Nation previously declared local states of emergency

The B.C. government is superseding all local states of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province announced a list of “unprecedented steps” to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and keep supply chains flowing Thursday, March 26.

The measures were taken using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act. Among those measures is the suspension of states of emergency declared by municipalities.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the changes will make for improved co-ordination between different levels of government over the course of the pandemic.

“Many local governments, First Nations and partners have stepped up to make sure they have prepared to protect their communities from the impacts of COVID-19,” Farnworth said.

“Today’s measures will make sure communities are taking necessary steps, in co-ordination with the province, to get ready should more action be required to combat COVID-19.”

The City of Armstrong declared a local state of emergency March 20, as did the Secwepemc Nation March 23. Those orders are now nullified.

The province will also allow municipal councils to hold more flexible meetings and co-ordinate the potential use of local, publicly-owned facilities for self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing and distribution.

The B.C. government declared a provincial state of emergency March 18, giving the provincial government added authority to take “every action necessary” to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Informed by the direction of the provincial health officer, we’re taking these critical steps to keep our communities safe, goods moving and essential service workers supported,” Farnworth said.

READ MORE: Unconfirmed report of COVID-19 at Kelowna General Hospital

WATCH: B.C. bans resale of food, medical and cleaning supplies; limits buying quantities

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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