Ottawa clarifies COVID-19 travel exemption after dozens in BC

Ottawa clarifies COVID-19 travel exemption after dozens in BC. fined for crossing into U.S. One B.C. resident said she was fined $5,5750 for a 10-minute trip into Washington State to pick up some groceries and fill up gas. The federal minister of emergency preparedness says border guards have been advised that British Columbia residents can cross into the United States for essential supplies because of flooding in the province after some travellers were reportedly facing fines or told they would have to quarantine on returning to Canada.

Cloverdale resident Trina Brady said she crossed into the States on Monday morning and bought fuel, two containers of milk and a block of cheese before returning home.

On her way back, she presented her Nexus card, immunization records and her shopping receipts to a border agent, but was then asked if she had a PCR test.

When she replied she didn’t need one, she said the agent told her she was mistaken and presented two options: stay in the United States and get a PCR test or continue into Canada with a $5,750 fine from the health authority for violating the Quarantine Act.

“I decided to take the fine and they gave me a COVID test kit and told me to go and quarantine until I received a negative test,” she said.

She spent the next day calling government and health agencies requesting answers.

“We’re really getting nowhere,” she said Tuesday night. “All we’ve gotten was a response from the federal government saying that never should have happened and it was erroneous, but they have yet to lift the quarantine off of me.”

Denis Vinette, vice-president of the travellers branch and COVID task force at the agency, said “a couple dozen” individuals were fined during a 24-hour period, although he did not have an exact number.

“We had to shift our approach quickly and get our front-line officers to understand that we are going to broaden the application of that exemption,” said Vinette in an interview. “Regrettably, there was a short period of time where, as we’re kind of gearing up for that transition, where some individuals were referred to the public health agency and some were subjected to fines in a situation where we’d agreed that we would actually not issue the fines.”

He said the agency doesn’t issue fines, but officers do assess declarations filed by travellers upon their return to determine whether they’re eligible for any of the exemptions and if they are not, they are referred to the public health agency. He said decisions on any penalties under the Quarantine Act rest with the public health agency or police.

Bill Blair said Tuesday the circumstances of those who received tickets for allegedly violating quarantine restrictions is also being reviewed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Ottawa approved an exemption from the B.C. government for travellers from specific areas along its south coast to travel to the U.S. to purchase gas or essential supplies and immediately return to Canada without providing a negative PCR test for the virus that causes COVID-19.

A statement from the Canada Border Services Agency says there can be a transition period that “may lead to some inconsistencies” when operational guidelines are changed.

The public health agency and the RCMP did not immediately respond to request for comment, but Vinette confirmed individuals crossing the border for essentials are no longer being referred for a fine.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said though the border is a federal responsibility, he has spoken with Blair about the issue.

“The message is that any tickets that have been issued will be revoked,” he told a news conference.

In a statement, the border agency says anyone who travels to the U.S. for a non-essential reason, to visit friends, eat at a restaurant or do holiday shopping would not be covered by the relaxed rules.

Blair says the travel exemption for essential supplies was appropriate, but it cannot be abused.

“It doesn’t include going to visit family and friends, engage in recreational activities and then gas up on the way back,” he told reporters in Ottawa.

Officers and public health agency representatives at border crossings must have the information they need to make the right decisions, said Blair, and “that clarity has been provided.”

Investors are zeroing in on a number of hot retailers’ shares as the U.S. holiday shopping season kicks into high gear this week, weighing the potential for supply chain problems against expected strong consumer demand.

The day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday, has for years unofficially marked the start of the holiday shopping period and one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

But the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effect on supplies have likely driven shoppers out early, as evidenced by a recent Commerce Department report showing U.S. retail sales surged in October. read more

“We’re in a very different place now and for the last two years. Christmas is a four-month season, starting in October,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist and head of the client portfolio management team at Federated Hermes in New York.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.