Non-essential travel is being restricted between three regional zones in British Columbia to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.
The government is using the boundaries of three health authorities to prohibit travel between them.
The three regional zones are made up of: the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley; Vancouver Island; and the northern and Interior regions.
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who is also the minister of public safety, says the new orders are being brought in using the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Program Act.
The order goes into effect today (April 23) and expires on May 25. It applies to everyone in the province, including non-essential travellers from outside the province.
Farnworth says the order affects those who are travelling across regional zones for recreational purposes but it is OK to travel for essential reasons including to attend school or work, transport commercial goods, return to a principal residence, access child care, use health care or assist someone in obtaining health care.
Essential Reasons When You can 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.
As per the news release, road checks will be set up near ferry terminals and on highway corridors that connect different regions of the province and the police will not engage in random checks.
If compliance measures are deemed necessary by police, a $575 fine may be handed out under Emergency Program Act travel order.
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says the province is working with police to establish enforcement measures in the coming days.
Earlier this week, the National Police Federation said it has “grave concerns” about police taking part in enforcing a COVID-19 ban on non-essential travel.
— With Files From The Canadian Press