Island Health’s top doctor proposes 14-day quarantine for visitors, premier calls for non-essential travel restrictions between provinces

Island Health's top doctor proposes 14-day quarantine for visitors, premier calls for non-essential travel restrictions between provinces
WatchBatten down the hatches and stay home. That's the message from Premier John Horgan today. And he's calling for restrictions for non-essential travel between provinces in a fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

There’s still no province-wide ban on non-essential travel. But on Wednesday, Premier John Horgan urged British Columbians to stay home.

“If you do not need to travel, don’t travel. This is not the time to go storm watching on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This is not the time to plan for a large gathering of friends over the Christmas holiday,” Horgan said.

The only travel order currently in effect in B.C. is a recommendation that there not be any non-essential travel in and out of Vancouver Coastal and the Fraser Health region.

But with the number of COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island spiking, Island Health’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick, would like to see anyone arriving on Vancouver Island in the future quarantine for 14 days.

“This is certainly an idea that the Maritimes have floated quite successfully in looking at what their numbers are,” Stanwick said.

Dr. Stanwick says many of the island’s cases since September are related to travel.

“We did a review of the data, of 133 cases that occurred between September and November, recognizing that a number of those individuals were associated with travel,” he said.

But Horgan doesn’t necessarily agree with a quarantine.

“My view is that a quarantine on Vancouver Island may not be the best way forward,” he said.

While the premier discounts the idea of quarantine, he says this is no time to be a tourist or any kind of travel. And he’s asking theprime minister for help in limiting travel between provinces.

“We need a pan-Canadian approach to travel. We need to make sure that people in Coquitlam are living under the same rules as people in Chicoutimi, Quebec,” Horgan said.

As of Wednesday, there are still some people travelling. At the Victoria International Airport, a trickle of passengers were heading in and out. The latest figures indicating 38,000 passengers passed through the airport in October, down 76 per cent from 2019.

Cornelia Tan, one of the passengers in the airport, said she just returned from an emergency trip.

“I just came from Saskatchewan. So I was visiting my family there,” Tan said.

B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, is expected to announce a number of new travel-related orders at the Thursday afternoon briefing.

READ MORE: B.C. sets another daily record with 762 new COVID-19 cases, including 20 in Island Health

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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