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B.C. mayors weigh in on whether province should crack down on travel

Last Updated Apr 7, 2021 at 4:17 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Two B.C. mayors reiterating message from province advising British Columbians not to travel

Penticton's mayor says he wouldn't mind stricter travel regulations

However, Tofino's mayor admits stricter orders may be difficult to enforce

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Despite high daily COVID-19 case counts, many people continue to travel around B.C. That travel may not be essential, and two mayors think the province should put in tougher rules to stop people from doing this.

“Short-term pain is better for long-term gain, so it might help the situation if they decided to do that,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki.

He says although it’s not as busy with tourists as it’s been in previous years, people are still coming in. He wouldn’t mind stricter travel regulations in the spring, so as to not to lose their summer.

“Those are the months that our businesses, not only in Penticton but right across the country, that’s when they actually have enough revenue to put aside in order to carry them through the winter,” he explained.

Tofino Mayor Dan Law is concerned about people ignoring travel recommendations, but admits stricter orders may be difficult to enforce.

“It’s one thing to enforce restaurants that refuse to close their indoor dining. It’s another thing to somehow enforce travel across B.C.,” he said.

Law thinks the province should also look at BC Ferries.

“It’s one thing to recommend people avoid non-essential travel, and then at the same time add ferry sailings to the long weekend,” he said.

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However, the province has no plans to crackdown on unnecessary travel.

“I just can’t be more clear on this. If you don’t need to travel, don’t travel right now. If you don’t need to travel, don’t travel,” Adrian Dix said Monday, repeating a plea health officials have made throughout the pandemic.

“You can’t force them not to move around, that’s a very difficult thing to do. We don’t live in that kind of state in British Columbia. We can’t have armies of people enforcing those rules that we’re asking people are saying it’s the guidance is for their own safety and the safety of others.”

In January, Premier John Horgan sought a review of legal options in light of concerns being raised that travel was contributing to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“The review of our legal options made it clear we can’t prevent people from travelling to British Columbia. We can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians,” he said in a statement.

Over the long weekend, Osoyoos, Nelson, and Ucluelet reported tourists visiting their communities.

-With files from Kier Junos, Jonathan Szekeres, and Lisa Steacy