With the backdrop of a third-wave surge in COVID-19 transmissions, Premier John Horgan’s pointed message to young British Columbians this week is attracting mixed reviews – including condemnation from the BC Green Party leader.
On Monday (March 29), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a ban on indoor dining, indoor fitness services and indoor worship until April 19. The sweeping restrictions – dubbed a “circuit breaker – no doubt put a damper on anyone who was hoping B.C. would soon see an easing to gathering rules ahead of summer.
According to BC Centre for Disease Control data, many of the latest infections have been in those aged 20 to 39. As of March 29, 40,172 people in these age cohorts have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. There have been 98,195 total confirmed cases in B.C.
Horgan said during the news conference that while he knows that many who tune in regularly to see Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are following the rules, younger British Columbians are not paying much attention and “quite frankly are putting the rest of us in a challenging situation.”
Horgan called on those 20 to 39 years old to curtail their social activity.
“My appeal to you is do not blow this for the rest of us,” he said. “Do not blow this for your parents and your neighbours and others who have been working really, really hard, making significant sacrifices so that we can have good outcomes for everybody.”
The stern directive drew immediate response.
In a series of tweets, Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau called on the NDP government to review the reasons behind the higher case count and help “just like we did for seniors.”
& yes, some are gathering w/ friends in unsafe settings. That is not OK. But maybe we can help them with that too - clearer comms that actually reach them, support w/ mental health care, affordable higher education & employment opportunities that give them hope for the future. 3/— Sonia Furstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) March 29, 2021
She pointed to reasons such as the “precarious, low-paid, public-facing work” young people can’t afford to miss amid the pandemic’s impact on the economy, as well as relying on public transit, caring for relatives and minimal affordable housing options forcing them to have multiple roommates.
She also argued that clearer communication “that actually reach them” and mental health supports could offer support to those who are unsafely gathering with friends when they shouldn’t be.
“Young people have lost so much this year,” she said.
“I can’t imagine how the isolation, loss of income, and cancelled life plans would have impacted my mental health at that age. And they are last in line for the vaccine. We owe it to them to create policies that will help them succeed.”
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