'We'll come down on you like a ton of bricks,' B.C. premier warns visitors who disobey guidelines
VANCOUVER -- The premier of British Columbia gave a stern warning Wednesday to travellers entering the province from other parts of Canada, but said he's still not convinced stronger quarantine rules are necessary.
Manitoba announced this week that non-essential visitors will soon have to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival, a measure intended to slow the spread of the concerning new COVID-19 variants that have been detected in the country.
But B.C. Premier John Horgan said his government isn't planning to follow suit – at least not yet.
"Until such time as the public health officer advises me that there's a benefit to going down that road, we're going to leave it untravelled," he said. "The public health evidence is not there at this time."
The premier said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has promised to keep him informed of the evidence as it emerges.
In the meantime, Horgan stressed that he expects non-essential visitors in the province to abide by local rules and restrictions.
"You better follow our public health guidelines or we'll come down on you like a ton of bricks," he said.
Given the threat of the faster-spreading U.K. variant, which has already been detected half a dozen times in B.C., professor Fiona Brinkman from Simon Fraser University argued it could be time for a phased approach to quarantines.
Brinkman, who is part of a national project tracking the variants, called the mutations "a significant concern" on the horizon.
"I would argue it is the time to prepare for this," she said. "We can combat these viral variants by simply following public health guidelines – however, the problem is people are tired."
Manitoba has set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Thursday for people to return to the province and avoid the new quarantine requirement. When announcing the measure, Premier Brian Pallister cited speculation that "restrictions will have to remain for significant periods beyond this year as well because of the variant dangers."
The province's self-isolation rule won't apply to people entering Manitoba for essential reasons, including medical treatment.
Earlier this month, the B.C. government sought legal advice regarding a potential ban on travellers coming into the province for non-essential reasons, and determined the extreme measure was not viable.
But Horgan did indicate stronger restrictions could be imposed if those visitors are found to be "causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan