BC COVID-19 Border Screening to be Taken Over by the Federal Government

This blog was prepared with the assistance of Angalee Ghirra, summer student-at-law.

Effective June 20, 2020, British Columbia put an end to its provincially-led border checks. The province will transition its border screening to the Federal Government, who will continue to implement the federal screening measures currently in place.

BC’s Contribution to COVID-19 Border Screening

BC was the first province to initiate the control of COVID-19 through border screenings. Public service employees made the screening of travellers arriving in BC possible by processing and screening incoming travellers for COVID-19 symptoms, conducting follow-up calls to track incoming travellers’ self-isolation plans and providing housing for travellers who did not have adequate self-isolation plans.

Effective June 20, 2020, the province will be halting its presence administering border checks. Border screening will now be carried out by the Federal Government through federal screening measures. The transition to federal COVID-19 screening measures has given the province of BC’s public service sector the ability to redeploy its resources to additional outlets to better limit the spread of COVID-19 in BC.

Although BC has relinquished its general role as a border screening authority, the province will continue to provide screening measures for temporary foreign workers arriving in BC for seasonal farming activity. BC border screening authorities will require foreign farm workers to self-isolate in accommodations near the airport for 14 days prior to being transported to their worksites throughout the province. The province will conduct screenings to check for COVID-19 symptoms, as well as administer follow-up calls during the duration of self-isolation for these foreign workers. Foreign workers will also be assessed by a health-care professional and must receive a negative diagnosis of COVID-19 before they can be discharged from their self-isolated accommodation.

Transitioning to Federal Government Border Screening Measures

The Federal Government has taken over the province’s border patrolling efforts and is now the sole COVID-19 border screening authority. The Federal Government will impose increased health screening measures for incoming travellers at BC airports and land border crossings, by mandating border services officers or quarantine officers to assess whether travellers have any COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival.

Although the current protocol for incoming travellers mandates that all travellers arriving from international destinations, regardless of whether or not they show symptoms of COVID-19, must self-isolate for 14 days, border screening services will still screen incoming travellers for COVID-19 signs and symptoms. If symptoms are prevalent, border services will take appropriate measures, such as imposing movement restrictions and quarantines on travellers. They will ensure that these individuals have the resources to self-isolate promptly. The screening measures under the authority of the Federal Government, will also ensure that incoming symptomatic travellers are able to receive medical attention if needed.

In addition, the Federal Government, under the authority of the Quarantine Act, mandates international travellers to produce and follow a compulsory self-isolation plan. This plan is comprised of basic information regarding a traveller’s plans to self-isolate. The plan must be made available by submitting the information to the ArriveCAN mobile app, a web-based form and/or a paper form upon arrival. Travellers may also receive routine phone calls from the Federal Government to monitor their compliance with their self-isolation plans.

Additionally, the Federal Government urges travellers or those planning on travelling to take it upon themselves to become well-versed with the current travel restrictions in BC, as they are constantly changing.

Read our British Columbia Current COVID-19 Travel Restrictions blog for more information regarding the current public health orders.

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.