(Sandcut beach/Photo by Thomas Zeran)

B.C. Premier John Horgan and the faces of the provincial pandemic response, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, will be addressing the public on Wednesday to share details about how to gradually return to some aspects of normal life.

On Tuesday, the province recorded just eight new cases of COVID-19 with new case numbers reaching single digits for the first time in almost two months.

This update was made one day after the province released detailed epidemiological modelling that shows which groups have been hardest hit by the pandemic in B.C.

See also: B.C. could have no new COVID-19 cases by July if we operate at 35% of normal

The data also showed that both the case rate and death rate of COVID-19 patients have continued to flatten since they were first reported to have plateaued on April 17th.

In light of this information, public health officials have issued cautiously optimistic messages over the past few weeks, reminding British Columbians to be patient and continue to follow the physical distancing measures in place until otherwise told.

Economic reopening

During his address on April 29, Premier Horgan said the economy will be returning to “something resembling normal in the near term”.

Unlike other provinces that are now restarting various sectors of their economy, B.C. will not be making that announcement as industries were never fully shut down to begin with.

“The approach of BC was to focus on how could we keep sectors operating safely rather than shutting them down until we could open them up again,” said Horgan at the time.

Tomorrow’s announcement, therefore, will relate to increasing economic activity rather than restarting individual sectors.

Last week, individual industries were invited to present their ideas on how they may adapt their businesses to follow public health principles and allow customers to maintain physical distancing, and thereby reopen in a safe manner.

The provincial government has also been working with WorkSafe BC to come up with specific guidelines for businesses to follow once they reopen.

Gatherings and activities

Wednesday’s joint announcement is also expected to carry news for the personal lives of British Columbians, many of whom have been waiting to find out what this summer will look like.

Large events with gatherings of 50 or more people will continue to be banned throughout the summer, but we are expected to hear about what types of smaller gatherings and activities will be allowed, and what continued restrictions may look like.

“We cannot afford to go back to where we were in December where everyone was gathering in large groups, during the pre-COVID-19 way of interacting. That is very dangerous and it’s going to remain that way through this summer and next fall,” said Dr. Henry.

But the world is getting closer and closer to having a vaccine against COVID-19, as scientists learn more about how the virus operates.

Nevertheless, Dr. Henry predicts that non-essential travel will reduce significantly on a global scale in the coming weeks and months, so people hoping to go on vacation should be looking closer to home.

Based on modelling data released on Monday, it is also expected that Wednesday’s announcements will bring economic activity and social interactions in B.C. up to 60 per cent of what was considered normal before this pandemic.

These numbers signal the end of the beginning of the pandemic in B.C. for Dr. Henry, and according to Health Minister Adrian Dix, summer 2020 could be a “summer of renewal” for the province.

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