Travel and COVID-19

Travel restrictions for non-essential travel in B.C. are in place until May 25 to stop the spread of COVID-19 and variants of concern. Fines can be given to people who leave their region for non-essential travel. Stay local and stay in your community. Do not travel for non-essential reasons.

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Last updated: May 10, 2021

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Restrictions on travel between regions of the province

This content is a summary of the Emergency Program Act (EPA) Ministerial Order No. M182. It is not legal advice and does not provide an interpretation of the law. In the event of any conflict or difference between this webpage and the order, the order is correct and legal and must be followed. 

Under the EPA, an order restricting non-essential travel between certain regions of the province is in place until May 25 at midnight. 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 not allowed and 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 my health authority

Enforcement

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.

What to expect at a travel road check

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

Do not go on long trips within your region. Now is not the time for overnight vacations away from your community. Stay close to home. Visit your local beach, hiking trail or park.

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

BC Ferries

From April 23 to May 25, BC 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

BC Ferries will continue to provide regular service to ensure commercial vehicle traffic and essential travel can be maintained.

BC 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.

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. 

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 if you can travel to Canada

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 3-night hotel stay at your own cost.


Leaving B.C.

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


Changes to transportation services

Transportation services may be impacted by COVID-19. 

Visit BC Ferries for information about service reductions and current schedules.

Mask policy

All passengers must wear non-medical masks or face coverings when at terminals and on board ferries except:

  • When inside a vehicle
  • When consuming food or drinks, provided physical distancing is maintained
  • Children under the age of two
  • Medical condition or disability that inhibits the ability to wear a mask*
  • People unable to place or remove a mask without assistance
  • BC Ferries employees working behind a physical barrier or within employee only areas provided physical distancing is maintained

*In the event that a passenger cannot wear a mask or face covering due to medical reasons, BC Ferries may require passengers to present documentation from a healthcare professional. This is a new Transport Canada requirement for ferry operators across Canada.

Passengers are reminded to continue to maintain physical distance while wearing a mask.

Medical assured loading

BC Ferries can implement procedures necessary to provide priority medical-assured loading on the first available vessel for any individual, their vehicle and an escort. 

To access priority loading for medical treatment, passengers must: 

Inland Ferries are in compliance with federal directives on COVID-19, and the following measures are now in place: 

  • Passengers must remain inside vehicles during sailings
  • All passenger amenities aboard the ferry are closed
  • Walk-on passengers, cyclists and motorcyclists must remain inside designated zones while in the terminal, and while aboard the ferry
  • Walk-on passengers, cyclists, and motorcyclists with symptoms of COVID-19 are not permitted aboard the inland ferries
  • Busy sailings may be impacted by reduced passenger limits
  • Follow direction of crew at all times
  • These measures are in effect until further notice
  • Find restrictions and other information related to specific sailings

Provincial highway rest areas are open and maintenance contractors are systematically monitoring them to ensure they are clean, sanitary and well stocked daily.

  • Use only the supplies you need during your stop
  • Practice physical distancing and proper hygiene
  • Most provincial rest areas are equipped with either handwashing stations or fully plumbed washrooms
  • For facilities that do not, people are encouraged to use disposable rubber gloves or their own handwashing/sanitizing supplies

Transportation services such as taxis, ride-hailing and intercity buses are able to operate, but must follow the orders and guidance provided by the Public Health Officer.