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

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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

A man has been arrested after a Nov. 11 break and enter at the Sandspit Airport, Queen Charlotte RCMP said in a media release on. Nov 17. (Black Press Media files)
Man arrested after Nov. 11 break and enter at local airport

Queen Charlotte RCMP investigate recent spate of break and enters

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Most Read