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COVID-19: B.C. premier says local travel ban not off the table

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Premier John Horgan, cabinet meeting Wednesday; Will likely discuss the feasibility of a travel ban

British Columbians being reminded to stay close to home as the weather warms up and people make local travel plans

There is currently no enforceable restriction on travel around B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With British Columbians across the province making plans to get outdoors, camp, and even travel locally in the weeks ahead, our premier isn’t ruling out the possibility of a travel ban.

People continue to be urged to stay home in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and address the third wave, which is being fuelled by more transmissible variants.

Premier John Horgan and his cabinet are meeting on Wednesday and will likely discuss the feasibility of a travel ban, limiting British Columbians’ movements throughout the province.

“There were suggestions that MLAs should reach out to the B&B sector in their community and say, ‘Don’t do anymore bookings.’ And many are not,” Horgan said Tuesday, highlighting the recent decision by a B.C. restaurant owner who closed for the weekend due to crowds from out of town.

But is a provincial travel ban practical?

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The premier notes that most people are doing the right thing.

“We will use the tools that are available to us if we believe that they will be effective. But effective deployment of these rules is the challenge, and we’ve been talking about that for a year as well,” he added.

The idea of an interprovincial ban has been floated as concerns over people from other provinces visiting B.C. grew. However, earlier this year, Horgan said it was not possible to bring in such a measure.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has urged people to travel outside their communities only if necessary.

“If you live in North Van, you should not be traveling to Langley, or to Richmond. If you live in the Lower Mainland, you should not be traveling to the island. If you live in Penticton, you should not be going to Sun Peaks or Oliver or Kelowna right now. We need to only do those types of travel if it’s essential, and nothing more,” she said Monday.

B.C.’s top doctor is set to release the latest COVID-19 modelling on Thursday.

“My appeal is the same it has been for over a year: please British Columbians, in the interest of not just yourselves but all of those around you, follow the rules,” Horgan said Tuesday.

“We have been talking — me to you, Dr. Henry and Minister Dix, and other of my colleagues, and indeed leaders from across the country — about how people should act for over a year. And I understand, completely, how frustrating that is for folks who have done their part, and they’ve stayed home, and they’ve not seen their kids. They’ve not visited their grandparents, they’ve not travelled to funerals to bury their loved ones. They’ve done all of the things that’ve been asked of them, and despite that, they see examples of people who are just completely disregarding all of the work that they have done,” he added.

The federal government has closed the Canada-U.S. land border to all non-essential traffic, but there is currently no enforceable restriction on travel around B.C.