B.C. premier unsure of quarantine plan for Vancouver Island travellers

·2 min read

VICTORIA — A proposed two-week quarantine for anyone travelling to Vancouver Island may not be the best way to proceed, British Columbia Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan was commenting on a proposal from Dr. Richard Stanwick, the chief medical officer for Vancouver Island, on limiting the potential spread of COVID-19 through mandatory travel quarantines.

The premier said he will let provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry determine whether the plan should be implemented, but he's unsure about its effectiveness.

"My view is that a quarantine on Vancouver Island may not be the best way forward," Horgan said at a Wednesday news conference.

Roughly half of the 133 COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island from Sept. 1 to Nov. 10 have come from people travelling, Stanwick said in an interview.

"I just wanted to frame how important travel was in terms of the presence of COVID on Vancouver Island," he said.

Some travel is necessary, such as truck drivers delivering food or people going to health appointments, but some of those positive cases are likely to have come from unnecessary travel to and from Vancouver Island, Stanwick added.

"There's definitely a contribution of travel to our COVID load," he said.

He said he doesn't know how feasible the quarantine plan is, but it's his role to "put all the options on the table" for Henry and health officials.

"I see my job as making sure (Henry) has the evidence before her to bring ideas to our decision-makers as to what is the best — and in some cases difficult — decisions to make in terms of trying to control COVID," he said. "I feel I have not done my job if I haven't framed what the issues are on the Island at this time."

The suggestion of a quarantine for travellers is similar to Atlantic Canada's bubble approach, which limits travel between those provinces, Stanwick said.

Tofino and Ucluelet, two popular tourist destinations on Vancouver Island, have asked travellers to stay away amid the current surge of COVID-19 cases.

— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press