BC Premier John Horgan says restricting travel would be impossible
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
Trudeau has said that health officials can impose new travel restrictions at any time without advance notice.
While BC’s COVID-19 restrictions are extended until February 5, a petition is calling for stricter guidelines when it comes to travelling across provinces.
A new COVID-19 variant reported in the UK is causing Canadian citizens to worry about new disease coming across the border if people are still able to travel within the country. According to Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, there have been 23 confirmed cases of the UK strain, and two cases of the variant from South Africa in Canada. Furthermore, Bonnie Henry reports that the South African strain was found in a BC resident last week but said the person had not travelled or had contact with a traveller. Because of this, many concerned British Columbians are petitioning to have more travel restrictions to the province as to curb the spread of the new strains. The petition also calls for vaccinations for all truckers, consistent testing of people at airports, and toughening COVID-19 regulations.
Currently, the BC government tells people to avoid non-essential travel altogether. If people must travel between provinces or out of the country, they also ask people to self-isolate for 14 days after, which can be enforced by authorities with fines—or up to six months in jail.
BC premier John Horgan said he is looking into the legality of restricting travel into the province. “We have been trying our best to find a way to meet that objective of the public in a way that’s consistent with the Charter and other fundamental rights here in Canada, so legal advice is what we sought,” he said according to a News 1130 article. As it stands, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom section six guarantees the right for Canadians to “move to and take up residence in any province.”
On January 19, Horgan announced in a statement that stopping interprovincial travel would be impossible, but that restrictions can be imposed if people travelling are causing harm to the health of British Columbians. He adds that much of the travelling between provinces is work-related and therefore cannot be restricted. Despite this, Trudeau has said that health officials can impose new travel restrictions at any time without advance notice.
This isn’t the first petition to try to impose more restrictions within BC. At the beginning of the year, parents were petitioning to elongate the winter school break for their children by two weeks due to the increase in reported COVID-19 cases. It also asks parents to pull their kids from the first days of scheduled classes in protest. The petition garnered over 68,000 signatures before kids went back to school last week.