Police began enforcing COVID-19 restrictions on non-essential travel on four B.C. highways on Thursday.
Each of the RCMP road checks is prefaced by highly visible signs warning drivers that non-essential travel is not allowed, and offering them the opportunity to make U-turns before they encounter officers.
Anyone who does enter a checkpoint will be asked for ID, their address and their reason for travel.
If police determine that reason to be non-essential, they’ll be directed to turn around. Refusal could result in a fine.
“The goal here is not to be putting out fines, really. The goal is to encourage people to stay local,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet told Global News.
“That’s what we’re doing, we’re asking people to turn around and return to their home base. If they refuse to turn around they could be served with an Emergency Program Act fine of $575.”
Under B.C.’s travel restrictions, the province has been split into three zones: the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Interior/North.
Checkpoints have been set up in the following areas:
- Highway 1 in the Boston Bar area
- Highway 3 in the Manning Park area
- Highway 5 in the Old Toll Booth area
- Highway 99 in the Lillooet area
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province was serious about enforcing the restrictions, including pursuing collection on the fines issued to any drivers who refuse to abide by the travel ban.
“At this point when you get a ticket you have the opportunity to dispute it just like any other ticket but if you don’t dispute it within 30 days you are deemed guilty and it is sent directly to a collection agency,” Farnworth said.
Farnworth added he would be introducing legislation next week to “make it easier” for the province to collect debts accrued for violating public health restrictions.
The RCMP said it would be taking a flexible approach to the checkpoints in the weeks to come, implementing them on a rotational basis and in different directions or different specific locations at varying times.
Police say they will give drivers plenty of warning about any road checks, though would not be revealing the exact locations.
With files from John HuaView link »