Residents of B.C.’s Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions won’t see COVID-19 travel restrictions between them, and police checks on non-essential travel will focus on highways and ferries between the Lower Mainland and the other three regions, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.
The new measures are expected to take effect Friday, with signs at land border crossings and periodic police checks similar to holiday impaired driving roadblocks to be detailed in a new public health order coming this week, Farnworth told reporters at the B.C. legislature Wednesday. Premier John Horgan announced the new measures on Monday, saying the road checks are “audits” and there are no new powers given to police to stop people without cause.
Highways such as the Coquihalla, Hope-Princeton and others linking the Lower Mainland with the Interior Health, Northern Health and Island Health regions will targeted, Farnworth said. Since Vancouver Island is a single health region, the only travel checks would be at ferry terminals, but he said travel between places such as Victoria and Nanaimo is already recommended against by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“The health advisories that are currently in place are to stay local, not to go outside your area,” Farnworth said April 21. “So for example, if you’re here in Victoria, don’t go up to Nanaimo. If you’re in Nanaimo don’t go up to Port Hardy. That’s already in place, and most people are doing the right thing. What we’re wanting to do is limit recreational travel between health authorities, so the ferry terminals to the Island are the obvious location to do that.”
A public health order will be coming out this week to detail the restrictions, including what constitutes essential travel such as work, medical appointments or transport of goods, he said. The ministry is also working on additional penalties to enforce its COVID-19 orders.