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Posted: April 8, 2020

New measures introduced for returning travellers

The provincial government is introducing new measures to make sure British Columbians returning home from international destinations have the support they need to self-isolate and keep their communities safe from COVID-19.

The measures, which include a new legal requirement to provide a self-isolation plan, support the provincial health officer’s travel orders and reinforce the federal emergency order under the Quarantine Act requiring people entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days.

“As we welcome British Columbians back home, we must stay vigilant and do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Premier John Horgan. “As we follow the advice and guidance of our provincial health officer, it’s also important to take care of one another. By supporting people through a self-isolation plan after international travel, we will keep people safe and help flatten the curve.”

Effective immediately, international travellers (including from the United States) coming to the province are required to provide a self-isolation plan before or upon arrival to B.C., regardless of their point of entry to Canada.

This document, which can be submitted online or completed in person on arrival, must show that returning travellers have supports in place to safely self-isolate for 14 days.

Beginning Friday, April 10, provincial officials will be on hand at the Vancouver International Airport (pictured above) and major land border crossings to make sure self-isolation plans are complete and to assist those who need it.

Upon border arrival, self-isolation plans will be reviewed by officials, and travellers will be supported as follows:

* If a self-isolation plan is submitted and approved, travellers will receive a confirmation. This confirmation can be shown on arrival. Travellers with approved plans will proceed to their home residence (or another identified accommodation) to self-isolate.

* If an airline traveller arrives and an adequate self-isolation plan is proposed but needs additional support to execute safely (e.g., enlist volunteers to deliver groceries or fill prescriptions once at home), travellers may be taken or directed to an accommodation site provided in collaboration with the provincial and federal governments to begin self-isolation, while outstanding details of their plan are put in place. With an approved self-isolation plan, they may return home. Without an approved plan, they will remain at an accommodation site for 14 days.

* If a traveller arrives at a major land border crossing and needs additional supports to execute a self-isolation plan, they will be sent directly home to start self-isolating and will be followed up with by officials for additional support.

* If a traveller does not have a self-isolation plan or is unable to safely carry one out as determined by officials, they may be transported or sent to an accommodation provided by government where they can safely complete their 14-day self-isolation.

Emergency Management BC, through a network of community supports and volunteer organizations, will help travellers with necessary food deliveries, prescription drugs and other supplies so people can safely self-isolate for 14 days.

The province, through Service BC, will follow up with travellers in self-isolation with telephone calls and text messages to make sure people have the support they need to complete their mandatory self-isolation. If required, the province will work with travellers to modify self-isolation plans to ensure public safety, outlined a joint media release from the Office of the Premier and Emergency Management BC.

The federal government will continue to use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the emergency order requiring individuals entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days, enforceable by the RCMP. Maximum penalties for breaking the federal emergency order include fines of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months, or up to $1 million and/or imprisonment up to three years for a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm.

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