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Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

B.C.’s premier has announced some bad news for those hopeful of officials enforcing a provincial “travel bubble” to combat transmission rates of COVID-19.

The B.C. NDP government announced last week it would be seeking legal advice on restricting interprovincial travel after many British Columbians voiced worry of travel contributing to spread of the coronavirus.

“The review of our legal options made it clear we can’t prevent people from travelling to British Columbia,” Premier John Horgan said in a statement on Thursday evening (Jan. 21).

“We can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians. Much of current interprovincial travel is work related and therefore cannot be restricted.”

Horgan went on to say that health officials have recommended everyone obey the health orders instead of the province impose mobility rules.

The news comes after the premier took part in meetings with other provincial and federal leaders.

“I asked my colleagues to carry a message back to their citizens: now is not the time for non-essential travel,” he said.

“We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available. And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely.”

The idea of restricting those entering the province was not supported by the tourism industry, which has faced plenty of hardship in the last year of quarantine and discouragement of non-essential travel.

If B.C. were to follow in the steps of Atlantic provinces, which placed such restrictions in mid-2020, the province would likely be met with similar legal challenges.

Earlier this month, Cara Zwibel, a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary.

She said it is not clear that B.C. has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases linked to interprovincial travel.

The association is appealing an earlier court decision upholding travel restrictions imposed by the Newfoundland and Labrador government.


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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Ashley Wadhwani

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Ashley Wadhwani
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