BC’s Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth announced that non-essential travel will be banned until after the May Long weekend (May 25th).
The ban is effective immediately, and will prohibit non-essential travel, using the powers of the Emergency Act Program, between three regional zones:
The regional zones are:
- Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions);
- Vancouver Island (Island Health region)
- Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions).
Travel within these regional zones is allowed, however, officials are still urging residents to remain within their home communities.
Farnworth explained that these new regions were created to keep residents from traversing between “large parts” of the province (ex: traveling from Kamloops to Whistler or Vancouver to Tofino).
In the coming days, Farnworth will be working with police forces across the province to establish details on how they will conduct this enforcement.
“We will ensure additional measures to ensure police have the necessary authority to conduct periodic roadside checks, like the CounterAttack program, into and out of the defined regions,” added Farnworth.
Anyone found ignoring these measures could be subject to a $575 fine, however, the details on the order will be made next week.
Police won’t be engaging in random checks, and enforcement measures will be informed by discussions with stakeholders on limiting the impacts to racialized communities.
“It is my intention within the next few weeks that I will be introducing legislation that will allow for further debt collection measures to be taken to ensure that all fines issues under COVID-19 will in fact be collected and paid,” said Farnworth.
The rule applies to everyone in the province, including non-essential travelers from outside the province.
These road checks will be set up near ferry terminals and on highway corridors that connect different regions of the province.
There are circumstances where travel is essential and permissible, such as attending school or work, transporting goods commercially, returning to a principal residence, accessing child care, obtaining health care, or assisting someone to receive health care.
“If we act now and do the right thing we could still have a summer like we’re all used to,” said Farnworth.
The province is also working with the tourism sector, and urging businesses to cancel any current bookings from outside the regions, and not accept any further external bookings as well.
BC Parks is also working to enforce the restrictions as well and is to refund bookings wherever necessary.
ICBC will also be contacting those that have booked road tests outside of their designated health authority and offering a test within their region instead if appropriate.
Additionally, signs urging residents to stay home will be set up along highways, Ferry terminals, and along the Alberta border.
New travel restrictions are now in effect to help slow the spread of COVID-19. There are three new Travel Regions and until May 25, non-essential travel is not allowed between these regions. Stay local – do not travel unless it’s for essential reasons. #CovidBC
— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) April 23, 2021