"The idea is not to fine people. The idea is that people not take part in non-essential travel."
Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters in the daily coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing Monday (May 10) that B.C.'s new emergency travel order isn't designed to create revenue for the province. Instead, the emergency measure aims to deter people from recreational travel during the pandemic.
No fines have been issued at the highway road checks to date, but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that this shows people are "paying attention" to the new rule.
"I think it was something that we needed to put in place to remind those small numbers of people that felt that these didn't apply to them," she explained.
Henry added that transmission rates need to continue to drop as more people are immunized before British Columbians can return to "post-pandemic life" and start to enjoy other social activities.
"When you observe what's happening at various checkpoints that have been in place in B.C., again, not about the revenue. It's about people not travelling and this is the time not to travel, not to engage in non-essential travel right now," said Dix.
"I think that message has got out very clearly."
What police will ask to see at the new road checks in B.C.
Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth told reporters in a press briefing Friday (April 23) that a $575 fine will be issued to people who contravene the new order restricting non-essential travel in the province.
The new order prohibits non-essential travel between three regional zones in the province, using health authority boundaries. The new zones include the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Coastal Health regions); Vancouver Island (Island Health region); and the Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health regions).
When stopped at a road check restricting non-essential travel, police will only have the authority to request:
- a driver’s name, address and driver’s license
- any available documentation regarding driver’s name and address (for example, secondary identification that confirms a driver’s residential address if recently moved)
- the purpose of the driver’s travel (documentation regarding travel is not required)
Passengers in vehicles will not be checked.
Police cannot engage in arbitrary vehicle or street checks. Site-specific enforcement measures will be informed by ongoing discussions with stakeholders on limiting the impacts to the public and racialized communities. If police have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has travelled for a non-essential purpose, they can direct the traveller to turn around and leave the region. These measures will be limited to site-specific and authorized police operations on travel corridors between regions.
The goal of these road checks is education and further discouraging people from travelling for non-essential reasons. If compliance measures are deemed necessary by police, fines can be handed out. At the discretion of police, a contravention of this Emergency Program Act travel order may be subject to a $575 fine.
However, Farnworth added that "at any time, failure to comply with the requirements of a road check may result in a $230 fine."