In a press briefing Friday (April 30), B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth stated that a couple of new exemptions have been added to the new ban on non-essential travel in the province.
People who are avoiding abuse, as well as people who are visiting long-term care facilities, are now included in the list of "reasonable exemptions" to the rule.
The health minister added that "the vast majority of British Columbians" are doing their part and that the provincial government is beginning to see the effects of the new travel order.
That being said, Farnworth added that "while travel within your regional authority is not restricted, the message is still clear: stay local. If you have to ask, you shouldn't go."
Farnworth previously stated that he met with a number of groups representing racialized groups Thursday (April 22) to address concerns that the new order could disproportionately affect BIPOC communities in B.C. Today, he added that “it is also important that we get enforcement right, and consider concerns raised by the public and incorporate the feedback received from racialized communities.
"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."
When stopped at a road check restricting non-essential travel, police will only have the authority to request:
• a driver’s name, address and driver’s license
• any available documentation regarding driver’s name and address (for example, secondary identification that confirms a driver’s residential address if recently moved)
• the purpose of the driver’s travel (documentation regarding travel is not required)
Passengers in vehicles will not be checked.
Police cannot engage in arbitrary vehicle or street checks. Site-specific enforcement measures will be informed by ongoing discussions with stakeholders on limiting the impacts to the public and racialized communities. 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.
The goal of these road checks is education and further discouraging people from travelling for non-essential reasons. If compliance measures are deemed necessary by police, fines can be handed out. At the discretion of police, a contravention of this Emergency Program Act travel order may be subject to a $575 fine.
However, Farnworth added that "at any time, failure to comply with the requirements of a road check may result in a $230 fine."
The RCMP will deploy a trained, dedicated team to manage and enforce road check locations, and ensure interactions are in line with the intent of the order and all existing police policy and police standards.
Order to continue through the May long weekend
During the first weekend of the new travel restrictions, BC Ferries vehicle traffic was down more than 25% fleet-wide, and passenger traffic down more than 30%, compared to the weekend before. Resort communities and accommodation businesses have contacted the Province to note significant declines in out-of-region visitors and bookings, and BC Parks has reported more than 5,000 cancellations in the past few weeks. Building off this success in limiting non-essential travel, the province will authorize site-specific, clearly marked police road checks to further curb recreational travel.
The regional zones are:
1. Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions);
2. Vancouver Island (Island Health region); and
3. Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions).
The road checks may be put in place at any time until the order is lifted at 12:01 a.m. on May 25, 2021, (after the May long weekend). The road checks may be set up on highway corridors that connect different regions of the province to remind travellers of the order.