B.C. health officials say border should ‘not open for visitors’ as agreement expiry approaches

B.C. health officials say border should 'not open for visitors' as agreement expiry approaches

BC health officials are suggesting that it is too early to open the border between Canada and the USA as the expiry of the current agreement looms.

It was revealed back on March 21, near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that non-essential travel between Canada and the US would be restricted over heightened concerns of spreading the virus.

The agreement is now slated to expire on May 21, however, BC health experts are urging that it is still too soon.

“A broad reopening of the borders is not in our best interest in the coming weeks,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during a press conference on Monday.

Henry notes she understands the current challenges that some face, but for safety reasons, it is important to not jump the gun.

At the moment essential goods have continued moving between the two countries as well as workers in essential industries such as health care.

Health Minister Adrian Dix added during the same press conference that the province’s message from him and Dr. Henry is being emphasized in the ongoing discussion between Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The premier has repeatedly made this point to the prime minister,” he claimed. “It’s our view that the border should not open for visitors at this time.”

Earlier this morning, the prime minister acknowledged that he felt the need for stronger screening measures at the border, but wouldn’t say whether he expects the border to reopen next week or not.

Trudeau did imply the need for screening measures is because of an anticipated increase in the number of people entering the country from the United States, however, refrained from giving a timeline.

He added during his morning press conference on Tuesday that the federal government plans on being “very, very careful” in dealing with cross-border traffic as businesses reopen and restrictions on personal mobility are eased in both countries.

In addition to Horgan and BC officials, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made it clear he isn’t ready to allow American visitors either.

Dix pointed out that he believes Patty Hadju, Canada’s Federal Health Minister, “understands our position.”

The agreement between the two countries was initially negotiated for 30 days, however, it has already been extended once.

“With respect to the United States, right now, it would make no sense to have visitors travelling either from Canada to the US and returning,” Dix said. “Or to have visitors, coming from the United States to Canada.”

According to BC health officials, they will continue requiring self-isolation plans from any resident returning to the province, implying that the BC government has been able to use this method to enforce and ensure adequate quarantine protocols.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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