The City of Fernie is actively applying for a grant through the Ministry of Transportation. (Photo Submitted)

New orders change little: Fernie Mayor

Mayor Ange Qualizza said the message remained the same, and British Columbians needed to stay put

Fernie’s Mayor has said the new travel restrictions introduced today don’t change anything about the message that nobody should be travelling beyond their communities.

“There’s not a resort mayor in this province that wants to be standing up right now and asking not to visit, but for our communities to have a summer season we really need everyone to stay put right now,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza.

Under new travel restrictions announced today (April 23), B.C. has been split into three regions made up of the provincial health regions, with Interior Health and Northern Health regarded as one region. British Columbians have been told not to travel outside of their health region except for essential travel, and anyone caught outside their region without a valid reason will now be on the line for a $575 fine under the Emergency Program Act. There will also be stops by police, with more detail on how the provincial police forces will factor into the new orders to come.

Qualizza said that the new enforcement measures were necessary.

“I think we need to be reminded why these measures as in place. We’re at an incredibly vulnerable point.

“For us as a resort community, the goalpost is May 24 so we can get a summer season, so out local businesses can open up and stay healthy and profitable.”

B.C.’s Minister for Public Safety, Mike Farnworth said that further clarity on enforcement of the new travel restrictions will be released next week. A full list of valid reasons for travel is available on the B.C. Government website, and includes work, commercial transportation of goods, moving house, attending school or post-secondary education, receiving healthcare or helping someone receiving care, and attending funerals.

Travelling within your region is also discouraged, but will not be enforced through fines or stops by police.

Increased signage will be installed at borders between the regions (such as at Hope, which will be the border between the combined Northern-Interior region, and the combined Vancouver Coastal-Fraser region).

Signage will also be installed at the Alberta border discouraging non-essential travel.

Qualizza said that if anyone had any doubts or confusion about the orders, the answer to any questions they had was to stay put.

“The truth is we know what to do. We’ve been asked for 13 months to stay home and avoid non-essential travel, and from where I am sitting, that’s never been more important. If you have any confusion about the travel orders that were issued this morning, stay home.”

The new orders issued this morning are intended to stay in place until the May long weekend (May 24), with Minister Farnworth saying that the goal was for the provincial vaccination program to be significantly progressed by that point.

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved
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