Doctor urges B.C. to follow Ontario and issue stay-at-home order

With cases hovering around a thousand a day and record ICU numbers, a family physician and clinical associate professor at UBC is urging the provincial government to follow Ontario’s lead and issue a stay-at-home order.

“It’s clear messaging: stay at home. There is no interpretation. Because that’s what people are doing, looking at the rules and going 'oh well the mall’s open, so I’m going to go,'” said Dr. Amy Tan.

She also wants provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to order all non-essential businesses to close, like Ontario has done.

“We need to shut down and be able to stop transmission,” said Tan. “But also, it’s the psychology of it.”

Tan says as long as shopping malls and other non-essential businesses are open, British Columbians aren’t getting the message.

“We need to increase people’s situational awareness that this is dire,” she said.

But Greg Wilson, the B.C. spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, says retail isn’t the problem.

“I don’t think they are a big vector for virus spread, but I think that’s because people are following the guidelines and wearing masks,” said Wilson. “The big difficulty in all retail settings is keeping people two meters apart.”

The provincial health officer allows B.C. retailers to have one customer for every five square meters of open floor space.

“Will she tinker with the formula? That’s a question for Dr. Henry, but she’s been pretty steadfast,“ said Wilson.

Dr. Tan says it’s time for new rules for retail in B.C.

“We need to be proactive, we dont want to be two, three weeks from now seeing what Ontario is going through and what Alberta is going through and saying, 'oh we didn’t do anything,'” said Tan, insisting “We need to act now.”