Land border crossing at Blaine, WA is traditionally one of B.C.’s busiest. (Black Press Media files)

Land border crossing at Blaine, WA is traditionally one of B.C.’s busiest. (Black Press Media files)

B.C. hands COVID-19 border crossing checks back to Ottawa

Provincial screening continues for arriving farm workers

The federal government’s COVID-19 quarantine measures for people arriving from the U.S. and other countries have improved to the point where provincial employees are ending their own border checks as of Saturday, June 20, Premier John Horgan says.

In the early days of the pandemic response in mid-March, Horgan was the first premier to call on Ottawa to “up their game” at border entry points after B.C. health officials began detecting infections from people arriving from the U.S. On April 8, B.C. implemented its own checks at Vancouver International Airport and U.S. land crossings to enforce the federal Quarantine Act requirement for new and returning residents to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Hundreds of provincial staff were assigned to obtain and review written plans, and to direct those without adequate self-isolation preparations to designated facilities. By June 15, 142 people had been housed by the province until they had their preparations made, out of 72,400 passengers checked at YVR and 17 land border entry points to B.C. International flights into Victoria and Kelowna airports were redirected to YVR as of April 9 to include those arrivals in the screening.

MARCH 16: B.C. blasts decision to leave U.S. border open in pandemic

APRIL 8: B.C. imposes quarantine requirements at border crossings

On June 19, Horgan and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth praised the federal government’s improvements in quarantine notification for arrivals, with documented self-isolation plans and a smartphone app that has since been introduced for travellers.

“The evolution of federally led border measures has allowed the B.C. public service to step back from border screenings to best limit the spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia,” Farnworth said.

Temporary foreign workers entering B.C. for seasonal agriculture jobs will continue to be monitored by provincial public health staff, including 14-day isolation before travelling to farms and follow-up phone calls by Service B.C. staff, the province said in its June 19 statement.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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