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Police checkpoints to be set up between BC regions to stop non-essential travel

Police road checks will be set up to enforce rules blocking non-essential travel between British Columbia health regions.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the checkpoints will be set up along highway corridors that connect the different regions of the province.

Police will be able to fine drivers found to be contravening public health orders $575.

The regions are:

  • Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions)

  • Vancouver Island (Island Health region)

  • Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions)

The road checks could be in place at any time until the order – issued on April 23 – is lifted at 12:01 am on May 25.

Farnworth stressed the importance of limiting movement around the province as part of the battle against COVID-19.

He said the checkpoints will be “clearly marked."

<who> Photo credit: BC Government

"These restrictions on non-essential travel are saving lives, it's in the best interest of all British Columbians to follow them, and I know most are given the significant drop we've seen in out-of-region travel," he said.

"But 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.”

He added: “My hope is that every British Columbian realizes the tremendous progress we can make if we stay close to home, and we can give the heroes in our health-care system a fighting chance at putting the current spike in cases behind us."

When stopped at a road check, police will have the authority to demand:

  • A driver's name, address and driver's licence

  • 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)

Motorists will be warned “well ahead” of a road check, Farnworth said, adding that Hwy 1 leading into the Interior from the Lower Mainland will be one probable area for police deployment.

Police will not be able to arbitrarily stop vehicles or pedestrians across the province.

They will only be able to perform the checks at site-specific locations.

<who> Photo credit: BC Government

The province added: “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.”

Essential (i.e., legal) travel includes:

  • 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 or a social 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 went into 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 under the Public Health Act if the variance was made before this order comes into force;

  • Travelling for the purpose of avoiding the risk of abuse or violence;

  • 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 Nis×a'a Health Authority region;

  • Travelling by residents of the Nis×a'a Health Authority region into the Northern-Interior Health Authority region;

  • Returning to a person's own principal residence.

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