The province’s top cop says COVID-19 travel restrictions and enforcement are working well, even though a North Vancouver man was nabbed for non-essential travel on the Island only after he was caught speeding on the Malahat.
The male driver was pulled over on May 1 for speeding and other offences. At that time, the officer determined the trip from the Lower Mainland was non-essential and handed him a fine of $575, just one of the tickets he was issued.
The driver was able to board a ferry — B.C. Ferry workers ask if drivers are travelling for essential reasons, but rely on travellers to tell the truth.
“This individual obviously did not tell the truth when being at the ferries, but guess what, they got nabbed because they are speeding and now they have a pretty hefty fine to pay,” Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, said Thursday. “And with the new changes introduced yesterday they’re going to have to pay it.”
On Wednesday, the province introduced new legislation to force people to pay outstanding COVID-19 fines before they can obtain or renew a B.C. driver’s licence or vehicle licence.
On April 23, Farnworth issued an emergency order prohibiting non-essential travel between three designated zones in the province —Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, and the Northern and Interior regions. Road checks are taking place on the mainland in main corridors such as the Coquihalla Highway, but not on the Island.
The travel restrictions were imposed alongside provincial health orders restricting indoor dining, faith gatherings and adult group fitness classes, all in place until at least May 25.
Farnworth said he’s pleased with the way restrictions and enforcement are working.
Ferry traffic is down about 50 per cent on existing sailings, which have been scaled back, with lighter winter schedules still in place, said Farnworth. Vehicle traffic from the Lower Mainland into the Interior is also down, he said.
“The vast majority of British Columbians in this province are doing the right thing,” he said. “This is not about necessarily issuing tickets. It is about getting people to do the right thing and letting them know there’s a penalty in place if they don’t follow the orders.”
The North Vancouver man heading over the Malahat was told to return immediately to the Lower Mainland.
At the discretion of police, drivers face a $230 fine for failing to comply and a $575 fine for violating the travel order.
Farnworth said the primary goal of the road checks is to deter people from travelling for non-essential reasons.