VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Police in B.C. won’t be randomly stopping people on roads to make sure they aren’t travelling outside their health region during the pandemic, according to the public safety minister, even though the premier alluded to that as he announced the new rules.
Minister Mike Farnworth says the province is “examining the use of periodic roadblocks only” and they could be set up at places like BC Ferries terminals or along Highway 1 leaving the Lower Mainland.
“Our intention is to discourage recreational and leisure travel – not punish people – and we are not interested in disrupting commuters and people going about their lives,” Farnworth said in a written statement. “At this time, the details of the order are still being finalized, and I’ll have more to say later in the week.”
Farnworth is clarifying how the province plans to enforce its new travel restrictions, which would be in place until at least May 25.
On Monday, Premier John Horgan said B.C. would have roadside stops starting Friday through the May long weekend, to prevent people from leaving their health authority without a legitimate reason.
During the announcement, Horgan repeatedly said road checks would be random.
“This will be conducted through random audits, not unlike roadside stops for counter attack during the Christmas season,” Horgan said. “They will be susceptible to all travellers, not just a few travellers and again they will be random, and there will be a fine if you are travelling outside of your area without a legitimate reason.”
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However, Farnworth’s statement says there will be no random, individual stops.
Police departments across the province will be waiting for the Emergency Program Act order before taking any action, according to the province.
“It is unfortunate that we must enforce a travel ban, but it is necessary for the health and safety of everyone.” Farnworth said. “Most British Columbians know they have a part to play in helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 and I am sure they will adhere to the new rules and stay in their region.”
The minister also said the province is working to ensure the new orders “do not unfairly impact racialized communities.”
More details of the plan are expected on Friday.
BC Ferries will also not accept bookings for campers and trailers, and the province is working with tourism operators to prevent people from booking if they are not from the local area. Bans on indoor dining and adult group physical activities, and limits on religious gatherings will also remain in place until May 25.
With files from Jonathan Szekeres