Rising COVID-19 cases in British Columbia have forced the hand of provincial health officials, who are re-imposing some public-health restrictions. From now until April 19th, indoor dining at restaurants and bars is on pause, along with adult group activity at fitness centers. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she’s also reversing a recent move to allow indoor faith gatherings. Premier John Horgan says B-C’s COVID case counts have risen to “unacceptably high” levels this past week because some people are ignoring the rules. He pleaded for people to curtail their social activity and “do not blow this for the rest of us.”
R-C-M-P in Richmond say they responded to an alleged assault involving racial slurs yesterday. Police say frontline officers arrested a suspect at a business after receiving a report from the manager. A spokesperson for the police says racism has no place in the community and went on to assure the public that any investigation with potential hate motivated undertones will be given the detachment’s full attention and oversight.
The B-C Teachers Federation says members are relieved by the provincial health officer’s support for a stronger mask-wearing mandate in schools. Doctor Bonnie Henry announced yesterday that public health guidance for schools has been amended to support masks in schools for Grades 4 through 12. Union president Teri Mooring says that despite the vague wording, the Education Ministry has assured the federation the announcement means new orders in Surrey schools will be expanded province wide. The statement says that means students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks full-time at school, while mask-wearing will be strongly encouraged for younger kids.
Three Masonic halls in Metro Vancouver have been damaged by early morning fires that are considered suspicious. Flames broke out at two temples in North Vancouver at around 7 a.m. and one of the buildings has been gutted — with officials working to determine any connections between the two blazes or if either was deliberately set. A third fire at a Masonic hall in southeast Vancouver is considered arson and police say they are actively searching for a suspect. A member of the Masonic society who attends both lodges in North Vancouver says he has never heard any members mention threats against the group.
A retail group is calling on Premier John Horgan to change his messaging to young people amid rising cases of COVID-19. As B-C introduced new pandemic measures yesterday, Horgan called on those aged 20 to 39 not to “blow this for the rest of us.” The head of the B-C division of the Retail Council of Canada says he would have found that insulting if he was in that age group. Greg Wilson is telling Horgan to replace the criticism with better education about the risks of COVID-19.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he will bring forward an emergency motion today offering assistance to the hospitality industry after the province reimposed restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. A statement from Stewart says suspension of in-person restaurant dining — except on patios — for the next three weeks is “difficult but necessary” and Vancouver will consider “extraordinary” measures, including expansion of patio options. Stewart says city staff will also be directed to work on “any other quick actions” that could carry restaurants and businesses through the latest challenge. Along with an end to indoor dining, indoor group fitness activities have also been paused until at least April 19th and the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has closed for the same period as the latest COVID-19 case count revealed two-thousand-518 new cases over three days.
White Rock RCMP have arrested and charged a male suspect in the removal of COVID-19 warning signs from the city’s pier and promenade. Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls told Peace Arch News the man was arrested after two residents called police at 5:40 a.m. on Sunday (March 28) to report a man cutting the signs from the promenade fencing and pier and carrying them away with him. “Police attended and located the man on the pier with the COVID signs in his hand, a tool belt and a box cutter,” Pauls said, adding that the man was arrested without incident.
Canada is in line to receive more than 44-million doses of COVID-19 vaccine before Canada Day. That number doesn’t include Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says those doses offer reasons to be hopeful. But Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam is warning that infection rates are increasing because of COVID-19 variants. She says severe and critical illnesses are placing renewed strain on the health-care system
A 42-year-old suspect has been arrested following three fires that police say were deliberately set at Masonic buildings in Metro Vancouver. Two fires were reported within minutes of each other this morning in North Vancouver followed by a third in Vancouver about 15 minutes later. One of the buildings — the North Vancouver Masonic Centre — is described as a total loss. Vancouver police say the suspect was picked up in Burnaby and they will be recommending he be charged with arson.