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Non-essential travel restrictions outside health regions coming as BC looks to reduce spread of COVID-19

Premier John Horgan said BC will erect signs at the Alberta border reminding travelers they should not be in the province unless it’s for essential business.

BC Premier John Horgan announced Monday that regulations are being developed by the public safety minister that will restrict movement within the province, including non-essential travel of British Columbians outside their own health regions.

"If we can't do it without an order, we're prepared to bring an order in . . . non-essential travel should be confined to local travel only," Horgan said during a news conference.

Horgan added that along with the in-province restrictions, BC will erect signs at the Alberta border reminding travelers that, as Horgan suggested, “unless they're coming for essential business, they should not be here.”

“They should be back in their home communities," he added.

Horgan said Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth would be issuing the new orders Friday under BC’s Emergency Program Act.

Horgan said people travelling can expect to see random stops, not unlike roadblocks similar to counterattack during the Christmas holiday season.

“They will be susceptible to all travellers, not just a few travellers . . . there will be a fine if you are travelling outside of your area without a legitimate reason,” Horgan said, although he did not specify the cost of a fine.

Horgan said these new measures are all about travel with no additional authourity given to police officers.

Instead he said this is a random audit of why people are on the highways and they are following these new guidelines.

"This is not the time to load up the Winnebago and travel around British Columbia," Horgan said.

"If you live in the Fraser Health area, by all means, take a few days, get outside, perhaps go to a campground in your local area. But do not try and book somewhere outside of your area because the tourism operator in that community will not book your passage."

As well, BC Ferries will no longer be accepting bookings starting at the end of the week for recreation vehicles like trailers and campers.

BC Ferries will contact passengers already booking trips on the vessels to ensure their trip is considered essential.

During the weekend BC Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 2,960 new cases, for a total of 120,040 cases in British Columbia.

Dr. Henry said there were 1,027 new cases between April 16 to 17, 933 new cases from April 17 to 18 and 1,000 during the past 24 hours.

Broken into regions, BC had 696 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,845 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 108 in the Island Health region, 211 in the Interior Health region, 100 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

Dr. Henry said sadly BC experienced its first death of a child due to COVID-19 in B.C.

“The child was under the age of two, resided in the Fraser Health Authority and was receiving specialized care at BC Children's Hospital,” Dr. Henry said.

“Our condolences are with the family, friends, caregivers and communities of this child and with all the people who have passed away due to COVID-19.”

Dr. Henry said there are currently 5,872 cases of COVID-19 that are confirmed variants of concern in our province.

She said of the total cases, 191 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 3,908 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 71 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 1,893 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

On the vaccination front, Dr. Henry said that 1,380,160 of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C. — 87,970 of which are second doses.