People coming from other provinces for skiing or other non-essential reasons are not increasing B.C.’s COVID-19 risk unless they mingle and party in violation of public health orders on gatherings, Premier John Horgan says.
Asked Wednesday if B.C. is considering following Manitoba’s lead to impose a 14-day quarantine on people entering from other provinces, Horgan said “we can’t and we’re not.” It’s “the logistics, not the legalities,” that rule out border and airport checks similar to those in place for international travel.
“There are four roads in and out of Manitoba,” Horgan said. “We have dozens of roads in and out of British Columbia.”
The other consideration is the actual risk of spreading COVID-19. Using the example of visitors to Whistler, Horgan said people bundled up and skiing are not themselves a risk to others, and Dr. Bonnie Henry’s latest advice on interprovincial travel is that there isn’t evidence that the travel itself is a major problem.
“It’s when people leave the hill and look for the party that we’re seeing transmission,” Horgan said, and that goes for people heading to Whistler from the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island as well as out-of-province visitors.
With legal advice that attempting to ban movement between provinces is unconstitutional, and faced with the impossible task of trying to monitor travel in and out of B.C., Horgan said the best course for him and other premiers is to continue to remind people that this is not the time for non-essential travel, within the province or between them.
If people come into the province and don’t follow the same rules as residents, B.C. law enforcement will “come down on you like a ton of bricks” and the people of B.C. won’t stand for it, he said: “We talk about COVID fatigue, it’s COVID exhaustion, let’s be honest.”
It has been one year since the first active case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in B.C., and more than 1,100 people have died. Horgan was asked if his or Henry’s optimism about controlling the pandemic has diminished. He said the latest news about further delays in vaccine and the emergence of new virus variants has been difficult.
“I’d cut her some slack if she was a bit grumpy on Monday,” he said.