VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – British Columbians are finally going to get a better idea of what exactly the province’s new travel restrictions will mean.
This comes five days after Premier John Horgan said his government was going to be cracking down on non-essential travel within the province.
B.C.’s public safety minister is set to outline the ways the restrictions will be enforced — as well as what the government views as essential — at a news conference set for 9:30 a.m.
There have been a number of questions since Monday, when Horgan first announced a new order limiting movement within B.C. was coming.
At the time, he suggested police would do random road checks, to ensure people were staying in their health authority.
However, on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth clarified that would not be the case, and that police wouldn’t be stopping individual drivers. He explained that the province was “examining the use of periodic roadblocks only.”
It’s also been further clarified that Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health would be considered as one region, after concerns were flagged about the boundaries for each.
Sue Willis, president of Accredited BC Accommodations — the voice of the bed and breakfast industry — is among those hoping for more clarity Friday.
“We haven’t been kept in the loop very much directly, as an association or as member properties, as to what exactly [the province] is expecting of us, and what type of enforcement, or what it is that we’re supposed to do, other than voluntarily not accept reservations from out of area,” she told NEWS 1130.
“Everybody has a different version of what essential travel means. If somebody’s coming to buy a home, is that essential or not? If somebody’s coming to visit an elderly relative that needs some help, is that essential for right now or is it considered essential at any time? If somebody’s travelling through an area, they’re coming back through the Okanagan, they want to stop for the night on their way back from a 20-hour drive … what’s essential? If someone needs a mental health break and they need to get away, then let them get away,” Willis added.
While more details are expected Friday, Willis says she and other members are a little on edge about what they could mean.
It’s already been a difficult year, and Willis says what the province spells out in its update could mean even more of a hit to the industry.
“Some of our members have decided to close until after these restrictions are over, some of our members still have yet to really have much more than 10 per cent business over the last year and a half,” she explained. “Everybody’s kind of on edge and not really sure what’s going to happen this summer.”
She points out that there are also mixed messages that are making waters even murkier.
The head of both the Vancouver Police Union and the B.C. Police Association has also expressed concerns, saying officers will also be looking for clarity around enforcement and what that will look like on the frontline.
B.C.’s top doctor, Bonnie Henry, has said with current levels of transmission, travel has the potential to spread the coronavirus even further in the province.
In addition to the restrictions to be announced on Friday, BC Ferries will also no longer accept bookings for vehicles like campers and trailers.
While the province has not announced any bans on travel into B.C. from Alberta, the premier said earlier this week that signs would be put up along the Alberta border, “reminding our travellers coming from outside the province that unless they’re coming for essential business, they should not be here. They should be back in their home communities.”
-With files from Dean Recksiedler