B.C. is beginning enforcement checks of its COVID-19 non-essential travel restrictions, with police checking highway and ferry routes in and out of the Lower Mainland and an emphasis on education, rather than assessing fines.
Police may ask drivers for a name, address and driver’s licence but “documentation regarding travel will not be required, and passengers will also not be asked to provide this information,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Friday. The latest order imposes fines for non-essential travel between the Lower Mainland, B.C. Interior and Vancouver Island.
Road checks will focus on Highway 1 out of Hope to the three B.C. Interior routes, and ferry routes to Vancouver Island. Beyond that, the public health advisory to stay local within the three areas is in effect, and it’s working on a voluntary basis, Farnworth said. The regional travel order continues to May 25.
Tourists accommodation operators are reporting that people are voluntarily cancelling or re-booking their stays until after the Victoria Day long weekend, and ferry travel is down 25 per cent across the fleet in the first week since the new order was announced, Farnworth said.
Police road checks will include warning signs several kilometres in advance, so drivers are prepared and have the option of turning back if their trip is non-essential. The public safety ministry released a list of trips deemed essential, including avoiding risk of abuse or violence, and social visits to seniors in long-term care and assisted living.
Other essential travel includes going to work or school, transporting commercial goods, moving or assisting someone to move, receiving health care or social services or assisting someone to do so, attending court or complying with a court order, going to a funeral and returning to a principal residence.
Police are authorized to assess a fine of $230 for failing to follow instructions at a road check or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, and driver information will only be recorded if there is a ticket issued. West Vancouver and Delta Police are staffing road checks at ferry terminals and the RCMP will run road checks on highways between the regions.
“Spreading this message will be more important than giving out tickets,” Farnworth said.