TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that the federal government won’t push back if provinces or territories move to restrict travel as the third wave of COVID-19, fuelled by the variants, spreads across more of Canada.
Trudeau’s comments on CBC Radio came after B.C. Premier John Horgan said earlier this week that B.C. was considering travel restrictions amid rising COVID-19 numbers. Ontario and Quebec have also been hit hard by the variants.
“We are in a new phase of the COVID crisis and our approach has been always to be nimble, to be focused on what we can do to keep people safe,” said Horgan.
Asked about restrictions on travel within Canada, Trudeau told the CBC: “Every step of the way, I’ve been supporting premiers and territorial leaders on what they need to do to keep people safe. As we saw with the Atlantic bubble, as we saw with the Arctic territories, they make decisions around closing off the regions. That is something that we are supportive of.”
Horgan has said B.C.’s measures could include examining the status of visitor bookings for hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.
Horgan said he and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have spoken about issues regarding travel between the provinces and the potential impacts on COVID-19 case counts.
“Among those were the concerns we both share, mutually, about people that come back and forth between Alberta and B.C. whether it be on essential travel or non-essential travel and the consequences that’s having on case counts in our respective jurisdictions,” Horgan said.
Last summer, there were reports ranging from verbal arguments to vehicle vandalism against people in Sicamous, Revelstoke and Trail with vehicles with Alberta licence plates.
Earlier this year, Horgan ruled out interprovincial travel restrictions, saying a legal review found B.C. doesn’t have the power to prevent outsiders from visiting.
But Horgan suggested Tuesday the issue could be revisited.
“We’re listening to advice from public health officials. We’re taking that advice,” he said. “We’re following the science and if Dr. Henry believes that there’s an opportunity for us to use some form of border restrictions, we’ll look at that.’’
The CBC is also reporting that, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as of March 30, 2021 more than 200 travellers have received fines for dodging the mandatory 3-night hotel quarantine requirement upon arriving in Canada from international destinations.
Two travellers who skipped out on the hotel quarantine, interviewed by the CBC, said they had concerns about safety and what they said were lax COVID-19 protocols.
With file from The Canadian Press