Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)

Road blocks to enforce B.C. COVID restrictions on recreational travel out of health authority

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

B.C. public health officials are extending the current COVID-19 restrictions for another five weeks, and imposing new travel restrictions – backed by road checks – to keep people in their home health regions.

Premier John Horgan said Monday that as of Friday, police will conduct roadside “audits” to make sure British Columbians are not travelling outside their local health region. Signs will also be placed at Alberta border crossings to notify people that B.C. expects essential travel only.

Campground and other tourism accommodation operators have agreed to refuse bookings from out-of-region customers until after the May long weekend, and B.C. Ferries will refuse reservations for recreational vehicles and cancel extra sailings for the Victoria Day weekend, which is traditionally seen as the start of camping season.

“We require serious measures if we’re going to get to the May long weekend and salvage our summer,” Horgan said.

The road checks will be similar to Christmas counter-attack checks for impaired driving, but “there will be no additional authority given to police,” Horgan said. “If we can’t do it without an order, we’re prepared to bring an order in.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced extension of dining and fitness restrictions Monday, after telling restaurant and bar owners last week to expect it. She took note of a scattering of weekend parties as warm weather has returned, and warned that people should not be planning vacations or other non-essential trips until after the May 24 long weekend.

With new COVID-19 cases running near 1,000 a day recently and the number of people in hospital with coronavirus-related conditions creeping up, workplace restrictions are becoming more important and there have been violations.

“We’ve seen that on patios for example, and the numbers of people who are in gyms,” Henry said.

RELATED: B.C. to offer vaccine to 40+ people in ‘high-risk communities’

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