Province likely to announce enforcement of non-essential travel restrictions on Friday

Province likely to announce enforcement of non-essential travel restrictions on Friday

BC Ferries sailings were at less than half capacity at its Swartz Bay terminal Thursday, possibly due to the province’s new non-essential travel restrictions.

On Monday, Public Health Officials implemented some new rules in an effort to curb non-essential travel as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across B.C.

With the new restrictions, B.C. residents are not allowed to travel outside of their health authority. Premier John Horgan says this will be enforced by random audits, like roadside stops.

At the end of the week, Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is expected to issue an order for police road checks at ferry terminals to limit non-essential travel.

But during the Question Period, the opposition Liberals demanded answers from the government.

South Peace MLA Mike Bernier said the messaging is confusing to the public.

“The messaging coming from this minister and the Premier and this government is about as clear as mud,” said Bernier.

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield also has concerns, saying the government has not defined what powers the police will have at the road checks.

“Can the Premier explain what specific powers, then, the police will have to enforce this order at a checkpoint?” questioned Merrifield.

But Farnworth said the orders are about protecting the public.

“This is about restricting travel to deal with the pandemic and the spread of the virus, and in particular, what we’ve seen over the last while, which is the increase in variants in this province,” said the Solicitor General.

The road checks would be located near the island’s ferry terminals, in jurisdictions staffed by RCMP members.

But the National Police Federation (NPF) has concerns about the added pressure this new change will bring on its members.

“They don’t want to be the judge and the jury, determining who’s contravening the health order as to what’s essential or non-essential travel,” said Brian Sauve, the president of the NPF, an organization that represents 7,000 RCMP officers in B.C.

The Nanaimo RCMP would oversee Duke Point and Departure Bay terminals.

In a statement to CHEK News, Nanaimo RCMP says it will be working with the BC Government and law enforcement partners to determine the way forward.

READ MORE: Hospitalizations climb over 500 as B.C. announces 1,006 new COVID-19 cases

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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