2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation Summary
The Town of Smithers is committed to ensuring citizens are kept informed of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We are taking direction from the Federal Government, Provincial Government, Northern Health, and the BC Centre for Disease Control in order to do our part to help minimize the spread of this virus. This includes recommendations for social distancing, a tactic to minimize close contact with others in the community by avoiding crowding and cancelling public gatherings, among other measures.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Federal Government of Canada - COVID-19 Information
To learn more about Canada’s actions to help Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, refer to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
PROVINCIAL HEALTH OFFICER
The Provincial Health Officer is the senior public health official for British Columbia, and is responsible for monitoring the health of the population of British Columbia and providing independent advice to the ministers and public officials on public health issues.
The responsibilities of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) are outlined in the Public Health Act.
- For more information about PHO orders and medical-related information, visit bccdc.ca
- For more information about Provincial support and health information, visit gov.bc.ca/COVID-19.
- For a list of orders and notices, the PHO Site.
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Provincial COVID-19 Resources
BC Government COVID 19 Provincial Support and Information website provides a hub through which you can access critical information as it is updated, including the Provincial Health Officer’s Pandemic Preparedness Page and the BC Centre for Disease Control COVID site.
Toll-free non-health phone line at: 1 888 268-4319 (1-888-COVID19), is open between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. seven days a week for non-medical information about the emergency (including latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and services from the provincial and federal governments).
- Fact Sheet on various renters’ supports. The fact sheet will be translated into multiple languages and those will be posted through this week. You can also find more details on the BC Provincial Government's actions to support renters
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
A new app from the Ministry of Health COVID-19 BC Support App and Self-Assessment Tool is availble to download. The app will let you receive the latest updates, trusted resources, and alerts with regards to COVID-19.
Download the self-assessment app at https://bc.thrive.health/
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY
March 26, 2020 The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MoECCS) has issued open burning restrictions for all High Smoke Sensitivity Zones across the province until Wednesday, April 15th, 2020.
The official release, which is also posted on the Air Quality Advisories webpage. These restrictions were put in place by request, and in coordination with, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) to reduce the amount of pollutants from open burning around high population areas.
There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function.
The BCCDC reports that:
- Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall
- Deterioration in air quality may lead to more cases of severe COVID-19 infections, adding further demand to our healthcare system
- Improvements to air quality may help to protect the whole population from COVID-19 and its potentially severe effects
While the focus should remain on social distancing to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the number of cases, keeping our air as clean as possible will also help to protect the population during this difﬁcult period.
These restrictions are only in place in High Smoke Sensitivity Zones. These zones can be found on the Interactive Venting Index webpage. MoECCS will be evaluating these restrictions on a daily basis, therefore, the area to which they apply may grow or diminish accordingly.
The BC Wildfire Service is working in close coordination with the MoECCS for any further restrictions that may be put in place.
For additional information please contact your regional Ministry of Environment & Climate Change office at 250-847-7260.
For information anytime on fire bans and restrictions, please visit the BCWS Fire Bans and Restrictions webpage.
Northern Health is actively monitoring COVID-19 in Smithers and the Bulkley Valley. To receive up to date information please follow the following link to Northern Health, which links to the BC Centre for Disease Control, COVID-19 on HealthLinkBC and Handwashing on HealthLink BC.'
Northern Health has launched a COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line to help answer questions and concerns from Northern BC residents. Northern Health Authority - COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line
The NH COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line can be reached at 1-844-645-7811.
Issued March 27, 2020 COVID-19 - A Northern Health Guide for your Community - Version 1
TOWN OF SMITHERS
News Releases COVID-19 Updates
SMITHERS AND AREA BUSINESS
The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce has created COVID-19 Resources + Closures and Operating Hour Changes to Smithers and Area Businesses.
Friday, April 3, 2020, 3:00pm BC Transit and the Town of Smithers implement service changes
SMITHERS – In order to continue offering Smithers Transit System customers with critical transportation solutions, BC Transit and the Town of Smithers are making adjustments to transit services as part of our response to COVID-19, starting April 6, 2020.
The service changes also take into account having sufficient service to allow for physical distancing while traveling on public transit in BC Transit communities.
The changes will include:
• Reduction to altered Saturday service levels on all routes
- Cancellation of route 22 trips at 2:30 p.m. and 2:50 p.m.
To find out more about changes to specific trips, please check the preview schedules on BCTransit.com. Due to the additional changes in response to COVID-19, a Rider’s Guide will not be available for this service change.
The response to COVID-19 is a fluid situation that businesses, governments, and people are adjusting to across the country and around the world. BC Transit will continue to monitor available resources and provide service updates on a day-to-day basis. We thank our customers for their patience, and apologize for the inconvenience.
Our team is here for you if you need to travel to get to work, including healthcare facilities or essential service industries, or to get your weekly groceries or a prescription. Please visit BCTransit.com/covid19 for details about our response to COVID-19 including the reduced passenger capacity, rear door boarding where available, not collecting fares, and enhanced cleaning on buses and at our facilities.
For more information on BC Transit services, please visit BCTransit.com, check NextRide, or call your local transit office.
BC Transit Communications
Thursday, April 2, 2020 Northern Health Update
Thursday, April 2, 2020, 9:30am BC Hydro Message:
Important information regarding help from BC Hydro during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in this fact sheet.
In addition, here are two links that provide further information that may be of interest to you:
Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 3:00pm Pacific Northern Gas Message:
At PNG, the health of our employees, customers and communities is our top priority. We are rapidly evolving our business practices to ensure we do our part in helping keep everyone protected during the COVID-19 pandemic while safely and reliably delivering the natural gas that our customers count on every day.
We understand that COVID-19 is creating financial hardship and uncertainty for many customers in your Municipalities. We are maintaining service for all customers during this time and are available to work with them on flexible payment options. Our customer service team is available to serve them, at 1-800-667-2297 or email@example.com and will work with them to find solutions.
At PNG, health and safety have always been our top priority. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are revising our service offerings and policies protecting the wellbeing of employees, customers and the public. Given current federal and provincial health authority recommendations for social distancing, we have temporarily suspending non-essential, in-home customer service visits. Our focus now is on providing emergency response and high priority operations like maintenance and construction functions essential for safely and reliably delivering natural gas. If we do have to enter people’s homes, we will be wearing all the necessary PPE.
Contact: Chad Taylor, Manager, Customer Service, Smithers, BC, Phone: 778-640-4791or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, March 30, 2020, 10:20am Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch Update:
- Order to Owners and Operators of Nightclubs and Food Drink Service
- COVID-19 Food and Beverage Sector Fact Sheet - March 27, 2020
Friday, March 27, 2020 Northern Health Update
Friday, March 27, 2020, 7:30pm Please click here to view the video Message from Deputy Mayor Atrill
Friday, March 27, 2020, 4:00pm Smithers District Chamber of Commerce Update: Supports for Business
Today, Prime Minister Trudeau announced four measures to further support business and not-for-profits who are struggling in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
- The wage subsidy has been increased from 10% to 75% for qualifying businesses, back dated to March 15, 2020.
- The federal government will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions to provide interest-free loans (up to $40,000 for one year) to small businesses and not-for-profits. Up to $10,000 may be forgiven in qualifying circumstances. The program is called the Canada Emergency Business Account—and can be accessed through financial institutions.
- Businesses, including self-employed people, can defer GST/HST payments, and customs duties for imports, until June. This will help businesses pay employees and ease cash-flow challenges.
- Small and medium-sized companies that need help with operational cash flow can access the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program. This program provides $40 billion in guaranteed loans (government backed) through various financial institutions.
The BC Chamber has updated their Resource Support page on the BC Chamber website, where you’ll find the latest information on how to qualify for, and access, all available programs and supports. Additional link for information from the BC Chamber is the ‘Business Support Cheat Sheet’
This announcement is a clear result of the collective advocacy efforts by the BC Chamber network, and the insight gathered through their recent COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey—which identified preferred solutions for businesses including zero interest loans and GST payment deferrals.
The BC Chamber Mindreader Platform is still listening, and reporting back to government. How is your business faring today in the age of COVID-19? How are your needs evolving? Take this quick (~7 min) survey.
If you can't click the link, please copy and paste the URL: https://www.bcmindreader.com/c/al/6ohp5NAi47uLGZ7uaYfrrQ/6U4cyOOg4Ac5xA86vHl5hi
Thank you to the Canadian Chamber for successfully leading the advocacy for a 75% wage subsidy. The federal and provincial governments are listening.
On a final note, please continue to share your concerns, challenges, and solutions on the supports businesses need in these unprecedented times. The BC Chamber network – along with our network – is making a difference! We are all doing the best we can to advocate for your needs and stay on top of all the latest changing information.
Thanks for keeping informed and reading these updates. Sincerely, Sheena Miller, Manager
Friday, March 27, 2020, 2:30pm OPEN BURNING RESTRICTIONS ISSUED FOR ALL HIGH SMOKE SENSITIVITY ZONES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Friday, March 27, 2020, 11:00am CN Rail Preparedness for COVID-19
First of all, the safety and health of our employees, customers, and community partners remains our top priority. CN continues to proactively respond to the developing COVID-19 pandemic, including working with provincial and federal health officials.
Safety is a core value at CN. We have on staff a medical team and occupational health department, who are playing a pivotal role in our pandemic planning and implementation. They are aligned and take direction from the World Health Organization, as well as Provincial and Federal authorities as required. They are also a member of the Association of American Railroad Health Committee where best practices are shared amongst North American railroads.
Two weeks ago, CN proactively implemented measures that include restricting non-essential employee travel, implemented social distancing, mandated work from home for employees not required on site, and amplified cleaning regimens on trains, cabs, bunkhouses, vehicles, tools, meeting rooms, terminals, offices, and other facilities. We also took the important step of segregating our rail traffic control functions and spreading these mission-critical employees over five highly secure sites where they are better protected from contamination.
Even with these measures, CN’s crews, operations, engineering and mechanical teams are still working around the clock to ensure a safe and efficient rail network – from trains to track. They continue to be in your community. Again, I want to assure you that CN is protecting these economically critical front line staff by implementing additional measures under the direction of our Occupational Health and Safety experts.
We believe our precautionary measures and responsible operations demonstrate CN’s commitment to the health and safety of communities where we operate. CN also provides updates on our website, including FAQ, which is available at: https://www.cn.ca/en/stories/20200320-covid-19-update/
CN is an essential service and must remain open. We continue to provide essential services to agricultural, food processing, and chemical companies, which provide inputs into countless consumer goods and fuel products. CN’s intermodal service provides transportation and logistics capabilities for the food and retail, medical and pharmaceutical sectors.
We are able to do this because of the commitment of our employees. Their status as essential cannot be overestimated; neither can our contractors and supply chain partners. We are not alone in this mission. Businesses that supply essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery and maintenance are critical to our operations. For example, our crews rely on hotels and motels to provide shelter and grocery and food delivery services.
To identify essential CN employees and contractors to our operations, CN’s Chief of Police and Chief Security Officer provided “letters of access” to railroad employees and contractors that are performing Essential Critical Infrastructure Work. These people also align with the British Columbia, Public Safety Minister’s announcement yesterday, which identifies which businesses the provincial government will deem essential. To view the provincial government’s list, please click HERE.
If you have any questions about the interconnectedness of any part of the supply chain or the precautionary measures CN is taking, please do not hesitate to contact me. Lindsay Brumwell, Manager, Public Affairs, West, T: 306-956-5401 | C: 639-318-6640
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 4:00pm Small Business Branch, Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness COVID-19: Supports for Small Businesses in B.C.
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 11:00am Smithers District Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Message In the midst of continued uncharted global pandemic territory, we must take a pause to appreciate and recognize our businesses and entrepreneurs. While many of us have had to make small adjustments in daycare and schedules, (some on a bigger scale than others), these businesses and service providers have been blindsided. These individuals have been forced to make difficult decisions to protect our health and safety by closing their business and livelihoods. Essential service providers are risking their own health and safety everyday to support our basic needs and keep elements of our economy moving.
Inspired by the city of Vancouver, at exactly 7pm everyday, individuals around Canada are taking to their decks and the street corner to loudly and proudly cheer for essential services! Canadians are proudly showcasing bright hearts on their businesses and homes. We are seeing businesses support their community back with kind gestures, gift cards, contests and positive messages.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TODAY TO SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY?
- Message a favorite business with a note of appreciation and gratitude!
- Purchase a gift card to use later
- Shop Local! There’s no time like the present to support e-commerce platforms!
- Help a neighbour in need: check in! Collaborate with neighbors and friends to check in on the most vulnerable in our community
- Make a financial donation to a community service organization
- Hang hearts and cheer loud at 7pm!
We appreciate everyone who is having to self-quarantine and isolate. This is an incredible act of social solidarity! Collectively, Canadian’s are sacrificing so we can give our health care system and essential services a fighting chance. So amid the chaos and closures, try not to lose sight of the broader goal of these preventative actions. We are asking everyone to open their hearts (#heartsofsmithers) and be mindful of the needs and challenges facing others. Let’s continue to think of safe ways to continue to interact and support our amazing community! #wereallinthistogether #heartsofsmithers #smitherscares
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 9:50am News Release #2020-08: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 8:45am Dawson Road Maintenance will be temporarily closing their offices to help keep their staff safe from COVID-19. All essential personnel will still be working in the office or in the field and practicing best methods to help prevent the spread of the virus. As always, you can contact Dawson Road Maintenance 24/7 at 1-800-842-4122 for immediate assistance or in emergency road conditions. Or you can also submit feedback and concerns on their website at http://www.dawsonroadmaintenance.ca Durin.g regular business hours, you can also reach us at 250-847-8737 in Smithers.
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 8:30am BC Hydro - Response to COVID-19
Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 4:10pm Please click here to view the video Message from Deputy Mayor Atrill
Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 1:00pm No Wipes in the Pipes
Please DO NOT flush disinfecting wipes or wet wipes (moist towelette or baby wipes) down the toilet. Unlike toilet paper that usually breaks apart in about 24 hours or so, wet wipes will remain virtually imperishable even when flushed down the bowl. Most wet wipes contain plastic fibre, which makes them partially non-biodegradable. Many plumbing experts would attest to the fact that wet wipes have been found intact within drain pipes even after months of being flushed. To help keep the Smithers Sewer Treatment Plant running as efficiently as possible, please dispose of your used wipes in the garbage.
Monday, March 23, 2020, 3:43pm Northern Health Information Bulletins:
- March 23, 2020 - UPDATED – Additional visitor restrictions in place at Northern Health facilities
- March 23, 2020 - Changes to protect seniors receiving care
- March 23, 2020 - (Ministry of Health) Joint statements on Province of B.C.'s COVID-19 response, list of latest updates
March 23, 2020 - BC Government COVID-19 response updates
To see more Information Bulletins, please visit the Northern Health Newsroom
- To see more Information Bulletins, please visit the Northern Health Newsroom
Monday, March 23, 2020, 3:20pm Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch Updates:
- Policy Directive 20-03 which allows the production and sale of hand sanitizer by licensed manufacturers in response to the unprecedented circumstances of the provincial public health emergency related to COVID-19.
- Policy Directive 20-04 which allows non-medical cannabis retail store licensees to offer reservations of non-medical cannabis products available in their store to customers via their website or by telephone.
- Policy Directive 20-05 which temporarily allows liquor primary and food primary licensees, who are authorized to remain open under the Public Health Officer Order, to sell packaged liquor with a meal, for takeout or delivery for off-site consumption until July 15, 2020.
Policy Directive 20-06 which states that the requirement for licensees to ensure all delivery persons delivering liquor with a meal from their establishment have valid Serving It Right certification will take effect April 20, 2020. This includes both licensee employees and delivery persons from third-party delivery services.
If you have any questions about these policies, please email LCRBliquorpolicy@gov.bc.ca
- If you have any questions about these policies, please email LCRBliquorpolicy@gov.bc.ca
Monday, March 23, 2020, 2:30pm News Release #2020-06: COVID 19 Update Smithers Fairground Closure
Monday, March 23, 2020, 11:30am News Release #2020-05: COVID 19 Update Municipal Parks and Playground Closures
Saturday, March 21, 2020, 3:50pm Please click here to view the video Message from Deputy Mayor Atrill
Friday, March 20, 2020 As of Friday March 20, 2020, the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce will be closing the Smithers Visitor Information Centre to the public until further notice. Temporary Change of Chamber Hours & Closure of Smithers Visitor Centre
Thursday, March 19, 2020, 11:00am Air Canada has suspended air travel into the Smithers Regional Airport for the month of April 2020. The airlines will be advising the public and the Town on any future suspensions beyond April.
Air Canada, March 18, 2020 News Release Air Canada Provides Update on Ongoing COVID-19 Response
Thursday, March 19, 2020, 10:00am The Town of Smithers has cancelled the Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Regular Meeting of Council.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 4:25pm Northern Health has issued the following three information bulletins recently.
- Non-urgent scheduled surgeries postponed (March 17, 2020)
- Visitor restrictions in place at Northern Health facilities/outpatient clinics (March 17, 2020)
- COVID-19 Online Clinic & Information Line (March 15, 2020)
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 3:00pm News Release #2020-04 COVID-19 Update: Building Inspection Services in Smithers
Monday, March 16, 2020, 2:42pm The following Information Posters may be printed for your reference:
- Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19
- Handwashing with Soap and Water
- Coping with Stress During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- Helping Children Cope with Stress During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Monday, March 16, 2020, 1:55pm News Release #2020-03 Message from the Town of Smithers Council on COVID-19
Monday, March 16, 2020 As a per the Province of British Columbia’s recent announcement with regards to the COVID-19 situation, effective, Monday, March 16, 2020, the following public facilities will be closed to the public until further notice:
- Smithers Public Library
- Bulkley Valley Regional Pool and Recreation Centre – effective at 3:00 p.m.
- Smithers Civic Centre and Smithers New Arena – effective at 11:59 p.m.
Friday, March 13, 2020 The Province of British Columnia directed that all event organizers cancel any gathering larger than 250 people. The Province has shared guidance on mass gatherings to assist with the case by case assessment of the risks posed by public gatherings.
Thursday, March 12, 2020 News Release #2020-02 The Town of Smithers has restricted public access to the following Municipal Facilities: Smithers Fire Rescue Office, Smithers Works and Operations Office, and the Smithers Regional Airport Administrative Office.
CBC News – Get the Facts on coronavirus
Health officials are currently investigating an outbreak of a 2019 novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) that began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness that has not been found in people before. It is not the same coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom (SARS) in 2003 or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS_CoV) in 2012, however, it is in the same family of virus.
Because this is a new virus, there are still things that we do not know, like how severe the illness can be, how well it spreads between people and other features of the virus.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the following websites: