Two men wearing protective face masks as they walk past boarded up shops in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Businesses must be part of the re-opening plan when COVID-19 rules relax: Dr. Henry

Staying home when sick will be key, B.C.’s top doctor says

Non-essential services need to plan for how to re-open safely as the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic flattens in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday (April 21).

The provincial health officer made the comment while answering questions about B.C. opening up some services that have closed due to COVID-19 risk. As of Tuesday, there were 596 active confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

While health officials have repeatedly said restrictions will remain fully in place for April, and are unlikely to loosen in May, Henry said businesses need to get ready to figure out how – and if – they can re-open in the “new normal” that B.C. will live with until a vaccine is developed.

Although most health-care providers, including dentists, have been deemed essential amid the pandemic, many have shut their doors as well or taken to telehealth, as in the case of some physiotherapists. Personal services, including spas and salons, have been closed in B.C. since March 21.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor orders immediate closure of salons, spas and other personal services

“We need to do it in the context that recognizes that we are at risk as a community,” Henry said.

Some of the new measures could include not having patients or clients sitting all together in the waiting room, she noted, as well as proper hand hygiene and plexiglass barriers.

“We may not be able to see as many people in a day but we have to do it in a way where we have the appropriate protections in place.”

The key to stopping outbreaks will be staying home when sick, Henry reiterated, whether it’s staff, patients or customers.

“A couple of outbreaks we have had recently have expanded because people have not paid attention to even having mild illness,” she said.

Staff working in client-facing roles where full physical distancing is not possible will have to take even more precautions to limit their contacts outside the workplace.

“If I’m working in a higher-risk environment… then I need to still be vigilant at home that I’m not having lots of connections, because I’m more likely to get sick, more likely to bring it into my practice or bring it back into my family life,” Henry said.

That balance will have to be maintained until a vaccine is created – something that could take more than a year.

Henry said when the vaccine comes, health-care workers, seniors and other vulnerable groups will get priority. In a poll released Tuesday by Research Co., 73 per cent of British Columbians said they would get the vaccine after it was developed.

“We do have plans across the province for mass vaccination clinics,” she said.

“I would not see us having mandatory immunization for this.”

READ MORE: ‘Every action counts’: B.C. reports 1 new death, 25 new cases of COVID-19

READ MORE: Patients returning to B.C. hospitals as COVID-19 cases level off


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronaviruseconomy

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

Just Posted

West Kelowna reopens beach volleyball, new pickleball courts

The City of West Kelowna is asking residents to maintain safe distancing

RDCO announces spring poetry contest winners

The district received 70 poems starting from May 1

Mother duck and babies rescued from Highway 97 in Lake Country

The mother and nine ducklings were taken to Duck Lake

Kelowna RCMP pull over vehicle with no licence plate, find drugs inside

Officers also responded to a white van in the West Kelowna Walmart parking lot with no insurance

Vehicle brings down light post on Westside Road Thursday evening

Incident occurred at the intersection of Westside Rd. and Seena Rd. at 7:50 p.m.

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Parts of the TCT through Princeton will open to motorized vehicles Monday

Parts of the KVR trail through Princeton will open for motorized vehicles… Continue reading

Partial return to class for Central Okanagan students: COVID-19

School District 23 and the Board of Education have released a letter regarding returning to class

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

North Okanagan farmers’ markets excited to welcome artisans back amid COVID-19

Provincial health officer announced non-food items to return to markets this weekend

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Chef brings farm-to-table approach to new Shuswap restaurant

Darren Bezanson opening Bistro 1460 at Hilltop Inn

Most Read