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B.C. health minister wants to see border closed to non-essential travel past June 21

Last Updated May 20, 2020 at 5:27 am PDT

FILE - Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, at their daily COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, April 15, 2020, (Courtesy Government of B.C.)

Health minister says he is not convinced number of COVID-19 cases stateside would see a significant downturn by June 21

He thinks it's going to be a longer wait before people are allowed to cross between the two countries

Health officer says it's also important for those in charge to consider ways to reconnect families living on either side

VICTORIA – B.C. Health Minister says the border between Canada and the United States should be closed to non-essential visitors even longer than the month imposed by the federal government.

Adrian Dix says while they know exactly what other provinces are doing to stop the spread of COVID-19, that isn’t the case in the United States.

“The situation is much less clear there [in the U.S.] I’m not, convinced there’s much chance that it will clear sufficiently in the next month to change at least my mind about whether we should open the border,” Dix says.

The federal government announced Tuesday that the border would remain closed until June 21.

“The short answer is that we support the federal action today [Tuesday]. We think it’s the right thing to do. We think it’s going to be almost certainly needed after one month from now, and that is going to be a significant period of time,” Dix adds.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says officials do need to think about ways of reconnecting families that live on either side of the border.

“What my recommendations are is that we continue to require isolation plans and that we have a process in place, but that we expand the people who are allowed to come across the border to include people who are, who have family or who are residents and some form of family reunification,” she says.

She adds if border regulations were expanded to allow families to reunify, it would still mean those travelling to B.C. would have to self-isolate for two weeks.

This is the second time the Canadian and U.S. governments have extended border measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As many businesses move to reopen in the province, Henry says she wants to reassure the public that health officials wouldn’t be easing the restrictions if they didn’t think they could do so safely.

This comes as the province announced there have been two more cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in B.C., while three people have died, all of them in B.C.’s long-term care system.