B.C. COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Authors: Negina Khalil, Graham Christie

Travel restrictions for non-essential travel in B.C. are in place until June 15, 2021. Fines can be given to people who leave their region for non-essential travel.

Restrictions on Travel Between Regions of The Province

Under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) Ministerial Order No. M212, an order restricting non-essential travel between certain regions of the province is in place until June 15, 2021. This includes travel for:

  • Vacations, weekend getaways and tourism activities
  • Visiting family or friends for social reasons
  • Recreation activities

Travel Regions

The order combines B.C.’s five health authorities into three regions of the province. Travel into and out of the regions for non-essential reasons is now prohibited by law. The regions are:

  1. Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health)
  2. Northern/Interior (Northern Health and Interior Health, including Bella Coola Valley, the Central Coast and Hope)
    • Residents from the Hope area can travel to Chilliwack for essential goods and supplies
    • Residents from the Bella Coola Valley and Central Coast area can travel to Port Hardy for essential goods and supplies
  3. Vancouver Island (Vancouver Island Health)

Find your health authority here.

Enforcement of Travel Restrictions

The primary goal of the order is education and reminding people about travel restrictions.

Police will not engage in random checks of vehicles or people on the street. Periodic road checks may be set up at key travel corridors between the defined travel regions to remind travellers of the order.

When stopped at a travel road check, police can ask for:

  • Driver’s name, address and driver’s licence
  • Other documents that verify a driver’s name and address. For example, secondary identification (like a utility bill) that confirms a driver’s home address if they recently moved
  • The reason for travel

If police determine the vehicle is travelling is for non-essential reasons, police will instruct the driver to turn the vehicle around and return to the region they came from. If the travel restrictions need to be enforced, police can issue a fine. At the discretion of police, people not following the travel restrictions may be subject to a $575 fine. People from outside the province who are travelling in B.C. for non-essential reasons can be subject to the same enforcement measures.

Reasons for essential travel

Essential travel between regions is allowed. Essential reasons include:

  • Returning to your principal residence, moving or helping someone move
  • Work, both paid and unpaid (volunteer)
  • Commercial transportation of goods
  • Getting health care or social services or helping someone get those services
  • Court appearance, complying with a court order or parole check-in
  • Exercising parental responsibilities (including spending time as a parent with a minor child)
  • Accessing child care services
  • Attending classes at a post-secondary institution or school
  • Responding to emergencies or a critical incident, like search and rescue operations
  • Providing care to a person because of a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or a physical, cognitive or mental impairment
  • Visiting a resident as an essential or social visitor at long-term care or assisted living facility
  • Fleeing the risk of abuse or violence
  • Attending a funeral
  • Local residents travelling into or out of the Nisga’a Health Authority region from the Northern/Interior travel region
  • Travelling to vote in an election held by a local authority, as defined in the Community Charter
  • Inspection or maintenance on a property other than your principal residence

Additional Measures

Additional measures are in place to support the restriction on non-essential travel, including:

  • Increased signage on highways and at border crossings reminding travellers of current restrictions
  • Hotels and resorts eliminating or cancelling bookings from out-of-area guests

B.C. Ferries

From May 25 to June 15, B.C. Ferries will:

  • Ask travellers if their passage is essential. Non-essential travellers will be asked not to board vessels headed to a different region
  • Suspend adding extra sailings during weekends, holidays and peak travel periods
  • Notify all travellers with reservations that the travel order is in place and allow cancellations free of charge

B.C. Ferries will continue to provide regular service to ensure commercial vehicle traffic and essential travel can be maintained. Review essential travel information from B.C. Ferries.

B.C. Parks reservations

If you have a camping reservation in another region, you can reschedule or cancel for free at any time and get a full refund.

Entering B.C.

From another province or territory

Road signs are up at the Alberta/B.C. border reminding travellers that all travel at this time should be essential. People from any province or territory are subject to the same travel restrictions as everyone in B.C.  If you travel to B.C. for essential reasons from another province or territory, you do not need to self-quarantine when entering B.C. Review province-wide restrictions.

From a United States border crossing

All non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border is restricted. Additional screening measures are in place at key points of entry. Learn about arriving in Canada at a land border crossing

From an international destination

To limit the further spread of COVID-19, travel restrictions are in place across all ports of entry. The Canadian border is closed to most international travellers. You are allowed to enter Canada if you are a:

  • Canadian citizen
  • Permanent resident of Canada
  • Temporary resident of Canada
  • Protected person (refugee status)
  • Person registered under the Indian Act
  • Foreign national with a non-discretionary (non-optional) reason to travel to Canada

Find out here if you can travel to Canada.

International Essential Workers International Students
In some cases, essential workers are allowed entry into B.C. If you must travel to B.C. to perform essential work, we recommend you:

International students can only enter Canada if their designated learning institution has an approved COVID-19 safety plan in place.

Federal entry requirements

Unless you are exempt, all travellers entering Canada are required by law to:

There are additional quarantine requirements if you arrive in Canada by air, including a mandatory three-night hotel stay at your own cost. Review federal requirements for flying to Canada.

Leaving B.C.

Do not travel outside of B.C. unless it is essential.

The MLT Aikins labour and employment team would be pleased to assist you with any questions regarding the COVID-19 travel restrictions in B.C.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.