B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that people returning home from international destinations (including the U.S.) must now provide a self-isolation plan or they will be placed in quarantine.
The change is effective immediately at all land borders and the Vancouver International Airport. According to the province, all international travellers have to provide the self-isolation plan before or upon arriving to B.C., regardless of the point of entry to Canada.
“This is not a suggestion — we have an expectation of those that have been away,” Horgan said Wednesday at a news conference.
The self-isolation document, which can be submitted online or completed in person on arrival, has to show that returning travellers have supports in place to safely self-isolate for 14 days.
The plan is a legal requirement. Horgan said it reinforces the federal emergency order under the Quarantine Act requiring people entering Canada to self isolate for 14 days.
“As we welcome British Columbians back home, we must stay vigilant and do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Premier John Horgan. “As we follow the advice and guidance of our provincial health officer, it’s also important to take care of one another. By supporting people through a self-isolation plan after international travel, we will keep people safe and help flatten the curve.”
Beginning Friday, April 10, 2020, provincial officials will be on hand at the Vancouver International Airport and major land border crossings to make sure self-isolation plans are complete and to assist those who need it.
And after April 8, flights originating from the U.S. will no longer be returning to Victoria or Kelowna. Vancouver International Airport will be the only airport for inbound flights coming from outside of Canada.
The daily Alaska Air flight from Seattle arrived at the Victoria International Airport on Wednesday with just a handful of passengers coming through to the arrivals terminal.
Alaska Air CEO and President, Geoff Dickson said pre-COVID-19, 6,000 passengers typically would pass through the facility daily. That number is down to less than 100. It’s reflected in the passenger loads on arriving planes.
“It’s anywhere between one to five passengers a flight. On a 74 seat airplane,” Dickson said.
Now upon border arrival, self-isolation plans by anyone travelling outside of Canada will be reviewed by officials, and travellers will be supported by the following measures:
- If a self-isolation plan is submitted and approved, travellers will receive a confirmation. This confirmation can be shown on arrival. Travellers with approved plans will proceed to their home residence (or another identified accommodation) to self-isolate.
- If an airline traveller arrives and an adequate self-isolation plan is proposed but needs additional support to execute safely (e.g., enlist volunteers to deliver groceries or fill prescriptions once at home), travellers may be taken or directed to an accommodation site provided in collaboration with the provincial and federal governments to begin self-isolation, while outstanding details of their plan are put in place. With an approved self-isolation plan, they may return home. Without an approved plan, they will remain at an accommodation site for 14 days.
- If a traveller arrives at a major land border crossing and needs additional supports to execute a self-isolation plan, they will be sent directly home to start self-isolating and will be followed up with by officials for additional support.
- If a traveller does not have a self-isolation plan or is unable to safely carry one out as determined by officials, they may be transported or sent to an accommodation provided by government where they can safely complete their 14-day self-isolation.
“If you don’t have it figured out, you’ll stay there for 14 days,” Horgan said about the quarantine sites.
Emergency Management BC, through a network of community supports and volunteer organizations, will help travellers with necessary food deliveries, prescription drugs and other supplies so people can safely self-isolate for 14 days.
The province, through Service BC, will follow up with travellers in self-isolation with telephone calls and text messages to make sure people have the support they need to complete their mandatory self-isolation. If required, the province will work with travellers to modify self-isolation plans to ensure public safety, the government said.
Horgan also said the federal government will continue to use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the emergency order requiring individuals entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days, enforceable by the RCMP.
Maximum penalties for breaking the federal emergency order include fines of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months, or up to $1 million and/or imprisonment up to three years for a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm.
Self-isolation plans can be submitted at www.gov.bc.ca/
There are 24/7 land crossing borders are the Douglas (Peace Arch), Pacific, Osoyoos and Boundary Bay.
Essential service workers who must travel across the border for work will still create a self-isolation plan and self-monitor. However, they are only expected to implement their plan if they develop symptoms. These essential workers include health-care workers, critical infrastructure, trade and transportation workers, airline crews and people making medical deliveries.
Watch Premier John Horgan’s April 8, 2020 speech below