VICTORIA, B.C. – The first weekend of new travel restrictions saw a reduction in passenger traffic in B.C. by 30 per cent compared to the previous weekend.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, expanded further on the restrictions Friday.
The province added two additional exemptions:
As for police road stops, Farnworth says only authorized police detachments will be able to conduct these checks. At police discretion, a $575 fine will be issued to those who do not follow the new restrictions.
Police will only be able to ask for a drivers license, secondary identification, and the purpose of travel. Farnworth states drivers and pedestrians will not be randomly stopped and fined as part of the travel restrictions.
“Police cannot engage in arbitrary vehicle or street checks. If police have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has travelled for a non-essential purpose, they can direct the traveller to turn around and leave the region. These measures will be limited to site-specific and authorized police operations on travel corridors between regions,” says the province in a statement Friday.
BC Parks reports more than 5,000 cancellations in the past few weeks. The province says it will authorize site-specific, clearly marked police road checks to further curb recreational travel.
BC RCMP released a statement following Farnworth’s announcement, stating road stop planning is currently underway.
“I want to be clear that the intent of this order is not punishment, but rather education around non-essential travel prevention to protect us all from the spread of COVID-19,” says Farnworth.
Farnworth officially announced the restrictions would look like on April 23rd. The restrictions are in place until after the May long weekend, ending on May 25th.
The new travel restrictions prohibit non-essential travel into or out of all health authority regions in B.C. Regarding the regional zones, the Northern Health Region and Interior Health Authority are now combined. People will only be able to travel within the region.
“These restrictions on non-essential travel are saving lives, it’s in the best interest of all British Columbians to follow them, and I know most are given the significant drop we’ve seen in out-of-region travel.”
The Province has identified the following as essential travel:
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information is released.
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