Despite B.C. travel ban, no travel restrictions at Alberta-B.C. border

Signs only at Alberta border

While travellers heading to the Interior from the Lower Mainland could be met with a police road check enforcing new “non-essential” travel restrictions, those coming from Alberta will be met with a sign asking people not to visit.

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced Friday more details on enforcing the new travel restrictions which came into effect last Friday. Non-essential travel is restricted in and out of the Lower Mainland, and police road checks will be set up in key areas, like on the three highways east of Hope. Those breaking the public health order could be liable to a $575 fine.

But to the east, Albertans travelling into B.C.'s Interior will only be met with signage asking them to stay out of the province if their travel is not essential.

“The issue of the border is a complicated one, but there will continue to be signage at the border warning people not to come to British Columbia,” Farnworth said Friday.

“We will engage with media in Alberta to remind people that now is not the time to come to British Columbia unless it's for essential travel. Even when they come for essential travel they have to abide by all the rules and regulations and health orders that are in place here in British Columbia.”

Alberta currently has 21,385 active cases of COVID-19, the highest rate of any province in Canada, at 480 active cases per 100,000 people.

Last week, in response to concerns about Albertan travellers, Farnworth said they were encouraging hotels to cancel bookings from those travelling from out of province.

"We are working with the tourism association to encourage tourism operators, for example in the Okanagan, to not accept out-of-area, out-of-province bookings and to cancel bookings that have already been made,” he said on April 23.

But after BC Hotel Association president Ingrid Jarett told Castanet that B.C. hotels would only focus on educating their guests about the new travel orders, Farnworth appeared to walk back his previous comments.

“Their job is not to enforce [public health orders], and we've never said it was, but they have been doing a remarkable job in explaining what those rules are,” Farnworth said Friday.

“Many hotels, when people book, explain the rules and then people have been cancelling or rebooking.”

He also noted that BC Ferries traffic dropped more than 25 per cent last weekend compared to the weekend prior, and BC Parks has had more than 5,000 cancellations for campground bookings since the travel restrictions went in place.

A list of “essential” reasons for travel within B.C. can be found here. While the new orders only legally restrict travel into and out of the Lower Mainland, the government continues to ask British Columbians not to travel outside of their local communities, while COVID-19 transmission remains high.

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