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B.C. premier calls for Canadian unified response to non-essential travel during pandemic

Last Updated Nov 18, 2020 at 2:32 pm PST

Summary

Premier John Horgan is turning to the federal government for help after B.C.'s worst day in the pandemic on Tuesday

Horgan urged against all travel that isn't necessary in B.C., hinted at further restrictions in next provincial update

The premier expressed the need for all provinces to be on the same page for travel until a vaccine is widely available

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — While he is not calling for a Canada-wide travel ban, B.C.’s premier says he wants the federal government and provinces to create a unified message for people to avoid all non-essential travel during the pandemic, following the western province’s worst COVID-19 case day yet.

Speaking Wednesday, John Horgan urged against all travel in the province that isn’t necessary and said he would be calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work with provinces to have consistent non-essential travel messaging across the country.

“We need a pan-Canadian approach to travel. We need to make sure that people in Coquitlam are living with the same rules as people in Chicoutimi. We need to make sure that those who want to come to British Columbia must only do so if it is essential for their business or their well-being. Beyond that, we need to stay in our tight social circles,” he said.

“To say broadly to all Canadians: stay where you live. Reduce your social interactions. Do only those things that are essential to you and your family, and your business, and your employment, and other than that, stay tight and focused on bending that curve.”

Horgan said he wants to see consistent messaging for travel until a vaccine is widely available.

“It’s a question of leadership, and I’m not suggesting that there hasn’t been sufficient leadership at the federal level on a range of issues, and I’m not requesting the federal government to impose anything on any other jurisdiction in Canada. I’m asking the federal government to work with us and other provinces to get the message out that if you do not have to travel between jurisdictions, you shouldn’t do so,” he said.

While there has been some promising news on the vaccine front, Horgan stressed B.C. is not in a place to let down its guard against the virus.

“We are so close, vaccine breakthroughs are very encouraging and when the vaccines are ready, British Columbia will be ready. But we’re not there yet. We can see the finish line, we can see some hope at the end of what’s been a very difficult tunnel. We cannot lose our resolve now.”

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Horgan hinted at further health restrictions being implemented at the next provincial COVID-19 update with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix Thursday afternoon.

“I’ll leave it to them to do so,” he said. “Dr. Henry will be talking about those issues again tomorrow. So what we’ve been doing, and I think it’s been consistent over the months is as new information comes available, as the science dictates, we will pivot and amend our plans, and that is appropriate. I think the British Columbians expect that, and we’re doing our level best to meet the expectations of keeping people safe, keeping our economy open. And not using restrictions in a heavy-handed way, but using restrictions in a way that are protecting public health and protecting our loved ones.”

The Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions have been under temporary restrictions that will be expiring Saturday. The measures were implemented to give the province a chance to slow transmission as cases continue to skyrocket and put pressure on the health-care system.

Meanwhile, Horgan said the new MLAs and his cabinet will be sworn in virtually next week and a brief session starting Dec. 7 with a Throne Speech outlining a roadmap through the COVID-19 pandemic.

-with files from Liza Yuzda and Sonia Aslam