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COVID: B.C. extends restrictions through May long weekend, planning travel restrictions

Click to play video: 'B.C. to implement roadside checks to limit non-essential travel' B.C. to implement roadside checks to limit non-essential travel
B.C. Premier John Horgan said Monday that measures will be introduced Friday under the Emergency Program Act to limit people from travelling outside of their health authority for non-essential reasons – Apr 19, 2021

The B.C. government is extending a ban on social gatherings, events, indoor dining and group fitness activities for adults through the May long weekend.

The current restrictions will now be in place until May 24 at midnight – 12 a.m. May 25.

The number of daily COVID cases in B.C. is now on a downward trend, but hospitalizations continue to go up.

Click to play video: 'B.C. reports 2,960 new COVID-19 cases over three days, additional eight deaths including 2-year old child' B.C. reports 2,960 new COVID-19 cases over three days, additional eight deaths including 2-year old child
B.C. reports 2,960 new COVID-19 cases over three days, additional eight deaths including 2-year old child – Apr 19, 2021

Read more: ‘I’ve been shot at but this is like nothing else’: Former RCMP officer with COVID-19 speaks out

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The province put a circuit breaker in place three weeks ago.

“We know when we take actions we are always from a position of two weeks behind. There were a large group of people already with the virus. What we were looking for is turning the corner,” Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday

“We are always playing behind with this virus. The cases we are seeing today are people exposed two weeks ago. I expect by the end of May we will be in a different world.”

The COVID-19 positivity rate was 10.6 per cent on April 9, 9.95 per cent on April 13 and down to 9.52 per cent on April 19. Testing has remained consistent throughout the time period, health officials said.

Click to play video: 'More pandemic restrictions coming to B.C.' More pandemic restrictions coming to B.C.
More pandemic restrictions coming to B.C – Apr 14, 2021

Henry said the outdoor parties on the weekends could lead to increased cases.

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“Most people were doing the right thing outside, which is great. But there were some taking advantage and pushing the limits. These are things that prolong the agony we are experiencing right now,” Henry said.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: B.C. officials to reassess response to outdoor gatherings' COVID-19: B.C. officials to reassess response to outdoor gatherings
COVID-19: B.C. officials to reassess response to outdoor gatherings – Apr 19, 2021

Read more: COVID: B.C. to implement random roadside checks to restrict provincial travel

Travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Monday that travel restrictions will be put into place across the province on Friday.

“Dr. Henry has been saying for months and months and months, stay in your territory, stay in your community,” Horgan said. “This is not the time to load up the Winnebago and travel around British Columbia.”

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. ban on indoor dining to be extended into May, industry says

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He said the province has been working with the tourism industry to “limit bookings” from people outside of a particular area.

“Non-essential travel should be confined to local travel only,” Horgan added.

On Friday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth will issue orders under the Emergency Program Act to restrict people’s ability to leave their health authority.

“This will be conducted through random audits, not unlike roadside checks or CounterAttack during the Christmas season,” Horgan explained.

“They will be susceptible to all travellers, not just some travellers, and again they will be random and there will be a fine if you are travelling outside your area without a legitimate reason.”

Horgan said the province will also make sure they liaise with the BIPOC community to implement the restrictions in a “way that does not give anyone fear. This is about travel.”

He said the police will be given no additional powers of authority but there will be random audits to make sure people are following the guidelines.

In addition, at the end of this week, BC Ferries will be stopping bookings for anyone with RVs or campers and they will be contacting people who have booked to make sure their travel is essential.

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BC Ferries will also not be adding any additional sailings leading up to the long weekend as they have done in past years.

Horgan said signs will be posted along the Alberta border, reminding anyone driving into B.C. that it should only be for essential travel.

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