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Travelling into B.C. from outside the country? You're now legally required to have a self-isolation plan
VANCOUVER -- Anyone returning to B.C. from an international location must have a self-isolation plan when they arrive at YVR, B.C.'s premier says.
Speaking to media Wednesday afternoon, John Horgan said he was referring specifically to the return of "snowbirds" and those coming back to B.C. and elsewhere in Canada on repatriation flights.
In some cases, people are coming back from places where COVID-related restrictions aren't as strict as they are in B.C.
"Although we welcome home all of those travellers, we also are asking them to join with all of us in the battle that we've been waging together in the past number of weeks," he said.
"We've been staying home. We've been giving up some of our liberties in the interest of the greater good."
He said those returning through the Vancouver International Airport, or any other points of entry into the province, must have a self-isolation plan. This includes anyone coming back from the U.S., and comes into effect immediately.
International travellers are required to provide a document online or complete it in person on arrival.
The plan is a legal requirement, the premier said, meant to support the provincial health officer's travel orders and reinforce a federal emergency order.
Anyone entering Canada must self-isolate for 14 days.
"If there is not a self-isolation plan, a quarantine site will be prepared and made available to those individuals until they can get themselves together."
How it works
As of Friday, provincial officials will be stationed at major border crossings and at the airport to help with the plans, and to make sure they're in place.
If a plan was submitted and approved in advance, the traveller(s) will receive a confirmation, which can be shown on arrival.
If a plan for someone who flew into Vancouver needs some work – for example, it doesn't outline how the traveller would get groceries – the person arriving in B.C. may be taken to an accommodation site, the province says.
They'd be allowed to return home once the details are sorted out.
If they can't get a plan approved, they'll stay at the site for the full two weeks.
However, if a plan for someone trying to cross at a land border isn't complete, that person will be sent home, and officials will follow up.
Among the options, should additional support be needed, are community-based organizations and volunteers that help deliver food, medication and other supplies.
Anyone without a plan will be taken or sent to a quarantine site.
The exception is for some essential service workers travelling across the border for work. They still need a self-isolation plan, and are required to self-monitor, but only need to actually put the plan in place if they notice any COVID-19 symptoms. This applies to workers including those in health-care, critical infrastructure and trade and transportation, as well as airline crews and people making medical deliveries.
Enforcement plans a 'work in progress'
Horgan was asked whether the self-isolation plans can actually be enforced by the provincial government.
If someone sees a violation, who should they turn to?
Horgan said the provincial ministry of public safety has been working on a system that would "empower bylaw officers and others," but described it as a "work in progress."
"Our expectation is if citizens see fellow citizens acting badly, if they know they've come back from abroad and are not self-isolating, you want to approach them and encourage them to get back into their house or back into their place of isolation," Horgan said.
But, if attempts from peers are unsuccessful, the premier recommended calling the public health office or local law enforcement.
Other plans in place
The premier also addressed the upcoming long weekend. The forecast suggests nice weather in much of B.C., but Horgan reminded the public that anyone heading outdoors still needs to follow physical distancing guidelines and other directions.
Horgan's address comes after an announcement that all of B.C.'s provincial parks have been closed in an effort to reduce the amount of people paying visits.
The parks closure was announced the same day as Stanley Park will close to traffic, and a day after provincial health officer Bonnie Henry urged British Columbians to stay apart during the long weekend.
Announcing four more deaths in the province, Henry stressed that people must continue to observe physical distancing even during the holidays. Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi and Ramadan are all coming up.
She warned that coming together, even in small groups, can be problematic.
Form for self-isolation plan
Here's what the form for self-isolation plans looks like: