The latest clarifications on the upcoming COVID-19 travel restrictions in B.C. might be good news for residents in the Lower Mainland.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth confirmed Wednesday that the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions will be considered one region when the new rules go into effect on Friday.
Farnworth said this means drivers travelling within Metro Vancouver will not be subjected to any road checks.
“So you’re likely to see something at the ferries for example, or at the other obvious location is when you head into the interior just before Hope if you were gonna take Highway 1 or the Hope-Princeton or the Coquihalla,” Farnworth said.
“But you will not be seeing anything on Boundary Road or in Vancouver or Burnaby or the Tri-Cities for example.”
Farnworth added the government is looking at using periodic roadblocks only and that police would not be randomly stopping people on roads.
The full details will be released on Friday.
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There are still concerns about these new travel restrictions, however.
The government said the new restrictions are to stop non-essential travel but still allow residents to travel for essential reasons.
“How do you provide evidence of essential travel and what is essential travel?” Meghan McDermott, staff counsel with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association told Global News Tuesday.
“So many questions. It’s a bit of a circus for the government to propose something and be so vague about it. To warn the public and let us stew about it. It’s a bit of a vacuum and an alarming vacuum to be in.”
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B.C. Premier John Horgan said Monday, when these new travel restrictions were first mentioned, the province will also make sure to liaise with Black, Indigenous and people of colour to bring in these restrictions in a “way that does not give anyone fear.”
He said the police will be given no additional powers, but there will be random “audits” to catch those who are “blatantly disregarding the rules.”
McDermott said this is a huge concern around enforcement and expanding powers for police.
“We have always been against discretionary police powers, particularly around police checks. There’s very clear evidence that police all over B.C. and all over Canada discriminate against Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals, so there’s certainly a concern for pretext policing being used here,” she said.
The police will be waiting for the Emergency Program Act order — and any associated guidelines — to inform the next steps.
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