Horgan says flights to B.C. should be limited to essential travel only

WatchWATCH: ‘Handful’ of non-essential travellers denied boarding this past weekend: BC Ferries

At the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, checking in at the ticket booth takes more time as BC Ferries staff are now required to ask all customers if the trip is for essential travel.

That’s because as of April 23, there are new restrictions on non-essential travel between three regional zones in B.C.

WATCH: ‘Handful’ of non-essential travellers denied boarding this past weekend: BC Ferries

Later this month, police checkpoints will be established to enforce the new orders.

But air travel is exempt from the same scrutiny, according to recent arrivals to Victoria’s International Airport from a WestJet flight from Calgary.

CHEK News asked travellers if at any point, they were questioned about the purpose of their travel.

“No. Not once,” one passenger replied.

“No. I was not asked,” said another.

Domestic travellers to B.C. are not required to quarantine as they are in Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces.

In Ontario, air travellers are “strongly advised” to quarantine for 14 days.

In B.C. passengers are not specifically asked if their flight is essential travel or not, according to Jeff Gallant, vice-president of operations, Victoria International Airport.

“The questions that are being asked of the travelling public is specific to symptoms — if they are experiencing symptoms, if they have been refused travel, if they are under any mandatory quarantine, or if their travel is under subject to any provincial order or provincial health authority,” said Gallant.

Premier John Horgan said other provinces are getting the message out to not fly here.

“And I’m grateful now that I’m hearing from other premiers in other parts of the country, they’re not only urging their citizens to stay home, they’re directing them to do so.”

And for those who are flying, the restrictions need to tighten, according to this passenger.

“I think if they are going to make a restriction they should maybe ask people where to ensure people are travelling for essential reasons.”

When contacted by CHEK News on Tuesday, WestJet issued a statement in regards to non-essential travel:

“With COVID-19 case counts rising across Canada, WestJet is asking Canadians to follow public health advice and we continue to offer flexibility to Canadians who have travel booked and may need to revise their plans,” the airline said.

“WestJet is operating at more than 90 per cent reduction in pre-pandemic capacity and will continue to operate essential air service to ensure critical supply chains remain open and to provide Canadians access to air service. WestJet flights continue to carry rotational workers and critical items including perishables, pharmaceuticals, blood products and many other necessary items to communities across Canada.”

The formal order for B.C.’s travel restrictions is in effect until May 25.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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