(B.C. Premier John Horgan/BC Gov Flickr)

After weeks of keeping the COVID-19 transmission rate flat during Phase 2 of the reopening plan, Premier John Horgan has announced that the province is now ready to gradually transition into Phase 3.

Phase 3 means more businesses can start to reopen, while following provincial health guidelines—these include tourism businesses like hotels and resorts, movie theatres, and more in-class instruction for K-12 and post secondary schools.

See also: B.C. could enter phase of resurgence in COVID-19 cases (MODELLING)

It also means B.C. residents can now make more leisure travel plans within the province, as long as they remain respectful particularly smaller and rural parts.

“We are going to have a summer better than we thought a few months ago, but it is not a return to normal,” said Horgan at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Horgan went on to state that even in Phase 3, the foundational elements and basic safety protocols that Dr. Bonnie Henry has put outlined throughout the pandemic still need to be followed.

This means people must continue to maintain physical distances, wear a mask when that is not possible, always wash their hands, and stay home when sick.

These measures are particularly crucial at this juncture as the province is poised to see a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases if people start having too many contacts too quickly.

“If we go too far, we risk a rebound…none of us want that,” said Dr. Henry on Wednesday. “This will be a unique summer for all of us.”

For now, Premier Horgan says he’s proud of what B.C. has been able to do as a community in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and says the province has led the whole country in its response.

State of Emergency

Horgan has also extended the state of emergency for the seventh time, meaning the province remains within the longest period of emergency it has ever seen.

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth initially declared a state of emergency on March 18 as a result of COVID-19, which was originally in effect for 14 days.

It was then extended six times by Premier Horgan, on March 31, April 15, April 29, May 13th, May 27, and June 10.

Today’s announcement further extends the state of emergency until the end of day on July 7, 2020.

“We’re extending the provincial state of emergency, while we work to keep the economy moving and provide more opportunities for B.C. businesses to welcome our communities back,” Farnworth said.

“We’ve also introduced legislation that will allow us to put longer-term solutions in place, so we can continue to provide the support British Columbians need to get through this crisis.”

Declarations of emergency can be extended by the province by increments of 14 days at a time.