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B.C. imposes $575 fines for non-essential travel

Even travel between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island or the Okanagan subject to extraordinary measures, including hefty fines

Elana Shepert Western InvestorApril 23, 2021

BC Ferries has started refusing entry to tourists and other non-essential travellers.| File photo
— BC Ferries has started refusing entry to tourists and other non-essential travellers.| File photo

B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth told reporters in a press briefing Friday (April 23) that a $575 fine will be issued to people who contravene sweeping new order restricting non-essential travel within the province.

BC. Ferries has already started refusing bookings for non-essential travellers.

“We’ve all made great sacrifices to protect our collective health and to keep our healthcare system functioning safely. While I’m disappointed, additional measures are necessary,” he said.

Franworth noted that, in order to combat the surge in cases, people need to “hunker down and stay local.”

On the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Farnworth has issued a new order using the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Program Act to prohibit non-essential travel between three regional zones in the province, using health authority boundaries. The regional zones are:

Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions);

Vancouver Island (Island Health region); and Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions).The order also includes non-essential travellers from outside the province.

“B.C. Ferries supports doing everything we can to discourage non-essential travel, and this order gives us the legal authority we need to deny travel for non-essential reasons,” Mark Collins, B.C Ferries’ president and chief executive, said in a statement Friday.

“While this new legal order targets those who are travelling across regional zones for recreational purposes, the advice from Dr. Henry to stay local remains in place everywhere in B.C. Do not go to Whistler or Tofino – even on a day trip. Everyone should stay close to home,” he stated, adding that people can continue to go hiking and camping but should do these activities locally.

This order will be in effect from April 23 through the May long weekend to May 25, 2021. It applies to everyone in the province, including non-essential travellers from outside B.C.

There are circumstances where travel is essential and permissible, such as attending school or work, the commercial transportation of goods, returning to a principal residence, accessing child care, obtaining health care or assisting someone to receive health care. Funerals will also be considered essential.

To help ensure this travel restriction is effective, the province is also working with:

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – on highway signage and increasing signage along the border with Alberta; BC Ferries – to restrict non-essential vehicle passage, deter non-essential bookings and limit sailings; tourism and accommodation industry association leaders – to strongly encourage all operators/businesses to support the order by declining new bookings from outside their regional zones and cancelling existing bookings from outside their regional zones; BC Parks – to inform the public about restrictions and refund bookings where necessary; and police departments – on establishing enforcement measures in the coming days.

The province will work with police to establish periodic road checks at key travel corridors during times associated with leisure travel to remind travellers of the order. 

If compliance measures are deemed necessary by police, fines can be handed out. A contravention of this Emergency Program Act travel order may be subject to a $575 fine.

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