B.C. is likely to extend its non-essential travel restriction that expires this week, and Premier John Horgan says he wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speak to the need to do the same for interprovincial travel in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Horgan told reporters in Victoria Nov. 18 he isn’t calling for the federal government to impose on provincial emergency plans, but for Ottawa to add its voice to B.C.’s recommendation to keep travel to essential only as Canada struggles with rising coronavirus infections.
“The people of Quebec and Ontario and Manitoba need to know that they should stay in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba until we get to a place where we can start distributing a vaccine across the country,” Horgan said. “This is not the time to go storm watching on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This is not the time to plan a large gathering over the holidays.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry raised the issue of interprovincial travel this week as she expanded her travel restriction advice from Metro Vancouver to the entire province. Horgan emphasized Henry’s point that social gatherings in private homes have been traced to much of the steep increase in infections in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, with spill-over effects to other regions as people move around.
The regional orders are due to expire Nov. 19 and Horgan indicated they are likely to be extended so they can “take hold,” as daily cases and hospitalizations in the Lower Mainland have continued to rise. A new daily record of 717 cases was reported Tuesday, with 11 deaths related to COVID-19.
Horgan said he will leave it to Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix to speak to B.C.’s orders and advisories at their scheduled update on Thursday, but he does not personally favour additional orders restricting travel between regions or imposing quarantine rules within B.C.
“My view is that a quarantine on Vancouver Island may not be the best way to go,” Horgan said, responding to a suggestion by Island Health’s Dr. Richard Stanwick.
The problem with restrictive travel orders for regions or provinces is that essential travel has to continue to keep vital services going, Horgan said.