The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General detailed new travel restrictions for all persons located within British Columbia in effect from April 23, 2021 until at least May 25, 2021. The new restrictions come as a response to record-high hospitalizations in B.C. and the spread of COVID-19 variants. Ministerial Order 172/2021 is aimed at restricting recreational travel across B.C. and encouraging residents to stay in their local health areas designated by the government.
For purposes of the order, the province’s five health regions have been combined into three local health areas:
- Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health;
- Island Health; and
- Northern Health and Interior Health.
A map of these three local health areas can be found here.
Non-essential travel is formally restricted between the three health areas. Periodic road checks may be set up at key travel corridors during the travel restrictions.
Further enforcement measures have also been implemented in conjunction with the order. Namely, a fine of $575 may be issued to those who do not comply with the detailed travel restrictions while a fine of $230 may be issued to those who are abusive or belligerent towards an enforcement officer acting in relation to the order.
Those travelling for an essential purpose are still able to travel between the three health areas. Essential purposes include:
- moving to a different principal residence or assisting a person to move for that purpose;
- carrying out a work-related purpose, including volunteer work;
- commercially transporting goods;
- receiving health care services or social services or assisting someone to receive those services;
- attending court;
- complying with a court order;
- exercising parental responsibilities, including spending parenting time with a minor child;
- accessing child care;
- attending classes or receiving training through a post-secondary institution or school;
- responding to emergencies or critical incidents, including incidents that involve search and rescue operations;
- providing care or assistance to a person who requires care or assistance because of
- a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or
- a physical, cognitive or mental impairment;
- visiting by an essential visitor as provided in the guidance of the Ministry of Health set out in a document titled “Ministry of Health – Overview of Visitors in Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Assisted Living” that was in effect on April 1, 2021;
- attending a funeral service;
- travelling under the authority of a variance of an order issued by the provincial health officer;
- travelling by residents of the local health area of Bella Coola Valley or Central Coast to Port Hardy to obtain essential goods and supplies;
- travelling by residents of the local health area of Hope to Chilliwack to obtain essential goods and supplies;
- travelling by residents of the Northern Health Authority region into the Nisga’a Health Authority region;
- travelling by residents of the Nisga’a Health Authority region into the Northern-Interior Health Authority region; and
- returning to a person’s own principal residence.
For the purposes of this order, “essential goods and supplies” means any goods and supplies that are necessary for the health, safety and welfare of people, including, without limitation, the following:
- food, water and other beverages;
- fuel and gasoline;
- health care goods, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies;
- personal hygiene, sanitation and cleaning goods;
Application to employers
Employers and their employees can continue to travel between the three health regions provided that the travel is for a work-related purpose, or otherwise meets one of the exemptions listed above to the travel restriction.
The provincial border between Alberta and British Columbia is not closed. Road signs are up at the Alberta and British Columbia border reminding travellers that all travel at this time should be essential. The travel restrictions will apply to individuals who travel from Alberta into British Columbia, and are intending on moving between the three health regions.
We will continue to monitor and provide updates as soon as they become available. The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving with new measures being adopted or modified at both the federal and provincial level.