The government of B.C. is restricting non-essential travel between three regional zones within the province, effective immediately.
The legal orders under the provincial Emergency Program Act are designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“These measures, most importantly, can save lives. And it’s in the best interest of all British Columbians to follow them,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.
“There will be consequences for not following [them].”
The government is using provincial health authority regions to define the boundaries of the zones.
The three regional zones are:
- The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health areas).
- Vancouver Island (Island Health).
- Northern and Interior regions (Northern health and Interior Health).
The province is also working with police enforcement agencies to introduce additional measures to ensure they have the authority to conduct periodic roadside checks into and out of the defined regions.
“A contravention of this order may be subject to a $575 fine,” said Farnworth.
Farnworth says the order affects those who are travelling across regional zones for recreational purposes, but it is OK to travel for reasons deemed essential, such as:
- attending school or work.
- transporting commercial goods.
- returning to a principal residence.
- accessing child care.
- using health care or assisting someone in obtaining health care.
B.C. residents will not be able to book accommodations or camping sites outside their zone. Operators will cancel any bookings that have already been made.
B.C. Parks will ensure that anyone who has booked a provincial camping site outside of their zone will receive a refund.
BC Ferries will stop accepting bookings for recreational vehicles such as campers and trailers — and the ferry service will also contact passengers who have already made reservations to ensure they are essential travellers. It will not be implementing any extra sailings this year for the May long weekend.
Farnworth said now is not the time for people from other provinces to travel to B.C, and inter-provincial travellers will be subject to the same consequences as residents.
“If you are coming into British Columbia from Alberta, and you decide you are now going to Vancouver … you potentially could get a fine,” he said.
The formal order for the restrictions are in effect until Tuesday, May 25, the end of the May long weekend.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the date was chosen because it’s when the province expects to have 60 per cent of its adult population protected with the COVID-19 vaccine.