It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues, campfires and family getaways.
But the Victoria Day long weekend is sure to look a bit different this year. Travel restrictions announced last month prohibit B.C. residents from travelling outside their region for non-essential purposes.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said residents can still go camping, but are required to remain in their own region. (The Island Health region is made up of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.)
“If you do need a break, then go to a place that’s close by,” Henry said. “Go for a hike within your local area. If you’re going camping, go camping within your local health area.”
B.C. residents will not be able to book accommodations or a camping site outside of their local health authority, which is being enforced at the discretion of the campsite operator.
BC Ferries will ask travellers if their passage is essential, with non-essential travellers asked not to board vessels headed to a different region. There also will not be the usual extra sailings to accommodate long weekend travel.
A checkpoint system will now see police at major highway and ferry crossings, able to slap $575 fines upon non-essential travellers.
The Emergency Program Act measures are aimed at preventing COVID-19 spread between parts of the province, according to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. “If we act now and do the right thing, we can still have a summer like those we are all used to.”
The travel ban is scheduled to remain in effect until May 25.
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