As we approach Victoria Day, British Columbians can look forward to the long weekend with cautious optimism. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of British Columbians who have followed the public health orders from Dr. Bonnie Henry, we have reached a point where we can begin our slow and cautious approach to move into the next phase of reopening our economy. I would like to take this opportunity to outline what the reopening plan may look like in the upcoming weeks.
Starting after the long weekend, the provincial government has announced that we are now moving into ‘Phase 2’ of a four-phase plan. This includes slowly expanding our social bubbles beyond our households while still taking the proper precautions, the resumption of elective surgeries, and the reopening of in-person regulated services and retail stores that can safely modify their business models to adhere to strict safety guidelines.
With weeks left in the school year, we anticipate many students will not return until September, with announcements in the coming weeks outlining what the phased plan to reopen our classrooms will look like. The legislature also looks set to resume, with the exact date and details of what that will look like currently under discussion by the House Leaders.
My colleagues and I have been hearing concerns from our constituents regarding the clarity of this plan and its guidelines. These next few weeks are going to be crucial to putting B.C. back on the right track and many of these announcements have raised more questions than answers for businesses and families.
Stores can open, but what will these new guidelines look like? Small businesses take many forms, and the guidelines will need to be specific for each business and industry. On top of this, businesses are reporting conflicting information coming from various sources and are desperately looking for clarity. We are hoping to see the implementation of a single centralized information hub that small businesses can access for guidelines.
Not only will our recovery strategy differ from industry to industry, but also from region to region. As the MLA for Peace River North, I am still looking for a more rural-specific strategy in the recovery plan as our economy and resulting recovery will look very different from downtown Vancouver.
Many small businesses across British Columbia have struggled over the past few months and have little room for error. Our businesses need the appropriate resources and guidelines so we can make plans to safely keep our businesses open and our economy on the road to recovery.
In the meantime, you can call 1-888-COVID19 for more information. Thank you.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.