New travel restrictions have just been announced for B.C. and we knew that this was a possibility, that officials might implement further restrictions in the coming weeks because of rising COVID-19 cases.
What are the new travel restrictions in BC?
Police are going to be able to conduct random vehicle checks and they have the authority to give out fines for those who are violating the public health orders, traveling for non-essential purposes outside of their community etc. The stops that they conduct might look a lot similar to the drunk driving stops that they frequently conduct on our roadways.
Non-essential travel restricted in BC until May 24th
To try and curb the spread of COVID-19 they are restricting travel in the province and non-local tourism and campsite bookings are also going to be cancelled. That means for people who are out of the province or campsite region that they might get cancelled and/or refunded and have to stay close to home now. They’ve been working with tourism companies to try and reject those non-local bookings.
There will also be clear signs at the border near Alberta that reminds people to stay in their own province unless they are traveling for essential purposes.
On highways and on roads around the province now you might be subject to being stopped by authorities and questioned about where you are going, to make sure you are traveling for essential purposes only.
This could include being given a fine if you are out for non-essential reasons and traveling outside of your community.
Thousands of new cases have been added in B.C. during this 3rd wave and they are concerned about variants and trying to get control of the spread, we knew that could mean some new travel restrictions.
The indoor dining ban and other restrictions have also recently been extended.
BC and Canada still have a small percentage that have been vaccinated fully, with over 9 million across Canada that have received their first dose. But that could change quickly with now those who are 18 years and older being able to register and make their appointments in BC for vaccination.
Ontario just recently announced similar measures to that in B.C. with police checking people randomly on the road to make sure they are following those orders to stay close to home.
However, we saw that various police agencies posted publicly to their social media pages that they weren’t going to do that.
In Ontario they have been seeing a great deal of public backlash for how they’ve been dealing with the pandemic and some are now calling to replace Doug Ford along with that growing wave of discontent.
COVID-19 Random Vehicle checks could be something that more people in B.C. start to go through as authorities look to work with health officials and get control of the pandemic situation in the province.
Expecting A Record Breaking Camping Year for BC in 2021
BC Parks are also supposed to be booking for BC residents first right now, they are given priority over travelers coming from out of town for this camping season.
With all of the recent restrictions announced in B.C., the travel restrictions that are going to go on for weeks now, it is not the right time to be booking a camping trip out of town and taking the risk.
BC has recently announced those travel restrictions within the province and it isn’t clear if they will be extended around the May long weekend either.
A number of summer festivals are already being cancelled around the country because of the uncertainty and problem that health facilities are still facing with rising COVID-19 cases.
More details on the BC travel restrictions is expected to be coming on Friday.
For now there are some analysts who have suggested that enforcing those restrictions might become very complicated because of the jurisdiction of authorities that are involved, including Transit Police.
It will be a coordination nightmare for authorities and some say that more definition and specificity of what qualifies as essential movement or non-essential movement is desperately needed too.
The B.C. tourism industry have voiced their support for the non-essential travel restrictions.
They are optimistic and do not expect these travel restrictions to go on all summer but rather a step that needs to be taken to try and ensure that a good summer in the province is possible. This means they do plan to open later in spring and summer.
The BC Tourism industry is working with officials to navigate these restrictions, if they are successful then we might have a more positive summer, fall, and winter ahead of us.
The Premier has suggested that this could make up for all of the fallback we have experienced lately.
We were previously told we might see that new normal by summer but then things took a turn in the other direction and we’ve seen more restrictions announced over the last several weeks.
“Do not plan a holiday until after the May Long Weekend” – BC Premier John Horgan
Stay Close to Home
The simple and clear message is still stay close to home and they are working with the tourism industry to try and cancel those bookings that have already been made for those who are from out-of-town etc, among other changes.
The premier has indicated that the recent move for those road checks in BC isn’t giving any additional authority, but a move where they are looking to work with law enforcement in the region to check on travel outside of health authority regions to reduce non-essential travel.
They want to move forward with voluntary actions and are urging people in B.C. to do the right thing and look to stay close to home on their own.
A New Normal Ahead in BC
Cases are expected to plateau in the coming weeks and to support that goal we see that the vaccination campaign has been expanded to now include anyone 18 years and older in B.C. to register for their vaccination appointment this week, those 18 and older can register on Friday this week.