What counts as 'essential' travel under B.C.'s new rules?
VANCOUVER -- The latest public health order issued in British Columbia left some people with questions.
As of Friday, residents of the province are asked not to travel outside of their region for non-essential purposes.
The regions, for the purpose of this order, are Lower Mainland-Fraser Valley, Northern-Interior and Vancouver Island.
Those caught breaking the rules can be fined up to $575, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced Friday. These rules are in effect until midnight on May 25, and include all travel considered non-essential.
But many have asked what actually is considered non-essential travel. CTV News asked Farnworth at a news conference Friday.
"It is focused on recreational travel," he said in response to a question from Bhinder Sajan.
"I recognize that there are essential reasons to travel and they are listed in the order."
That list, posted online Friday, is as follows:
- Moving, helping someone move or returning to primary residence
- Work, both paid and unpaid (volunteer work)
- Commercial transportation of goods
- Accessing health care or social services
- Helping someone access health care or social services
- Making a court appearance, complying with a court order or going to or from a parole check-in
- Complying with a shared custody agreement
- Going to or from child-care services
- Attending school at a college, university or other post-secondary institution
- Responding to a critical incident, such as a search-and-rescue mission
- Providing care to a person because of a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or because of cognitive impairment
- Attending a funeral
- Visiting a resident as an essential visitor at a community care facility, a private hospital or a non-profit institution designated as a hospital (more information on the Government of B.C. website)
Later in April, two more reasons were added: visitng a resident of long-term care as an essential visitor, and fleeing the risk of abuse or violence. The province has also listed travelling under a public health order variance (for example, players in the Western Hockey League), and said residents travelling into or out of the Nisga’a Health Authority region can pass between the Northern and Interior travel regions.
Travel for vacations, weekend getaways and tourism activities is not considered essential. Visiting family or friends for social reasons is also not permitted outside a person's travel region, and neither is travel for recreation activities.
And while it's not banned under the Emergency Program Act order, members of the public are encouraged to stay where they live as much as possible.
As an example, Farnworth said, he lives in the Tri-Cities area of Metro Vancouver, and will not be going to White Rock, even though both are technically in both his travel region and his health authority region.
The idea is to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible as the province deals with its third wave of the disease.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan and Alyse Kotyk