VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s new travel order preventing people from leaving their health authorities will remain in effect until after the May long weekend.
People who are found to be travelling between health regions for non-essential reasons will face a possible fine of $575, explains Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.
“For the purposes of this order, the Northern and Interior health authorities will be considered a combined region, and the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities will be considered a combined region as well,” Farnworth explained, adding the Vancouver Island region will not change, aside for some exceptions.
On roadside checks, Farnworth says details coming out next week. But says they are not arbitrary. They will be "periodic" and similar to counterattack drunk driver checks.
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) April 23, 2021
While Farnworth notes violators will be ticketed, he says the province is still consulting with police and that more details would be shared in the coming days.
Related Article: Police in B.C. unsure how to enforce non-essential travel crackdown
“Over the coming days, we will continue working with police to establish additional measures to ensure they have the necessary authority to conduct periodic, roadside checks, like the CounterAttack program, at strategic points into and out of the defined regions,” he explained. “At that time, a contravention of this order may be subject to a $575 fine.”
The province has provided a list of what it considers “essential” reasons for travel:
- carrying out a work-related purpose, including volunteer work;
- moving to a different principal residence or assisting a person to move for that purpose;
- commercially transporting goods;
- receiving health-care services or social services or assisting someone to receive those services;
- attending court;
- complying with a court order;
- spending parenting time with a minor child;
- accessing child care;
- attending classes or receiving training at a post-secondary institution or school;
- responding to an emergency or a critical incident, including incidents that involve search and rescue operations;
- providing care or assistance to a person who requires care or assistance because of:
- a psychological, behavioural or health condition; or
- a physical, cognitive or mental impairment.
- visiting by an essential visitor as provided in the guidance of the Ministry of Health set out in a document titled Ministry of Health – Overview of Visitors in Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Assisted Living that was in effect on April 1, 2021;
- attending a funeral service;
- travelling under the authority of a variance of an order issued by the provincial health officer under the Public Health Act if the variance was made before this section comes into force;
- travelling by residents of the local health areas of Bella Coola Valley or Central Coast to Port Hardy to obtain essential goods and supplies;
- travelling by residents of the local health area of Hope to Chilliwack to obtain essential goods and supplies;
- travelling by residents of the Nisga’a Health Authority region into the Northern-Interior Health Authority region; and/or
- returning to one’s own principal residence.
Farnworth is once again urging people to stick close to home as much as possible.
“This is primarily, it is focused on recreational travel, non-essential travel. That’s what it’s focused on,” he said, noting exceptions listed make room for special circumstances.
Farnworth says there will be specific funding to help with enforcement, recognizing “this is an initiative related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of a provincial health order. So yes there will be provincial monies to put this in place.”
The province has said that signs will be posted on the highway and along the border with Alberta to B.C. “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.” BC Ferries is also no longer accepting bookings for recreational vehicles like campers and trailers.
The province is working with BC Ferries to “restrict non-essential vehicle passage, deter non-essential bookings and limit sailings,” and is also consulting tourism and hospitality leaders to encourage businesses to decline new bookings from people outside of their regions. They are also being asked to cancel existing bookings from outside their regional zones.
Meanwhile, BC Parks is working to inform visitors about the restrictions and will offer refunds where necessary.