Home Government Government of BC Premier updates British Columbians on interprovincial travel

Premier updates British Columbians on interprovincial travel

"To all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely." ~ Premier John Horgan

Thursday January 21, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

[Premier Horgan will be addressing British Columbians again on Friday January 22 in a live teleconference at 10:30 am.]

After weeks of media and British Columbians pressing the provincial government on where it stands on restricting interprovincial travel during the COVID-19 pandemic (as a way to prevent spread of the virus), Premier John Horgan released a statement today January 21 regarding potential restrictions on interprovincial travel.

In summary, travel of people coming into BC can’t be prohibited but it could be discouraged if a person is seen to be contributing to the spread of disease. This would include people travelling for non-essential reasons (like vacations). Work-related travel cannot be restricted, it was determined by legal opinion. The most important thing is for everyone to follow public health orders.

BC is ready to assist in any federal efforts to further restrict international travel restrictions.

Horgan first stated in his January 14 press conference that he would be seeking legal advice on the whole matter of interprovincial travel — what the restrictions could be, if any, and if changes could be made then how that would be done. And now a week later he has presented the results of that exploration.

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Here is the full statement by Premier John Horgan on January 21, 2021:

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our first and overriding priority has been keeping British Columbians safe. My thanks go to everyone in B.C. who has been working hard to keep the spread under control.

“We’ve heard from many people who are worried travel from outside B.C. has contributed to the spread of COVID-19. In response to those concerns, we asked for legal options on restricting interprovincial travel and a better understanding of the impact of travel on transmission.

“The review of our legal options made it clear we can’t prevent people from travelling to British Columbia. We can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians. Much of current interprovincial travel is work related and therefore cannot be restricted. Public health officials tell us what is most important is for everyone to obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules. Therefore, we will not be imposing travel restrictions at this time.

“If we see transmission increase due to interprovincial travel, we will impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers. We will continue to work with the tourism and hospitality sectors to make sure all possible safety precautions are in place.

“Today, I spoke with my colleagues across Canada at the Council of the Federation and First Ministers’ meetings. The Prime Minister is exploring further international travel restrictions, and B.C. stands ready to assist. I asked my colleagues to carry a message back to their citizens: now is not the time for non-essential travel. We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available. And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely.”

Alistair MacGregor, MP, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford
Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) is the NDP critic for BC economic development.