British Columbia will impose travel restrictions to prevent movement outside of health regions as police set up roadside checks similar to those seen during the Christmas season.
Premier John Horgan says the government has been working with the tourism industry and B.C. Ferries to deter people from booking accommodation if they live outside their intended destination.
Horgan says Public Safety Minster Mike Farnworth is expected to provide more details about the travel restrictions on Friday.
Horgan added that signs will also be posted at the boundary with Alberta to reduce non-essential travel between the two provinces.
Horgan said travel restrictions involving police will not be like those that were walked back in Ontario last week that could have seen pedestrians and motorists stopped during lockdowns and asked where they live.
“We’re not going to follow other provincial leads and bring forward proposals that can’t be enforced or, quite frankly, reduce confidence in our objective here, which is to collectively say let’s redouble our efforts, let’s bear down for the next five weeks so that we can have the summer that all of us desperately, desperately want.”
However, the province is prepared to bring in a public health order banning all non-essential travel if people do not voluntarily follow the restrictions to reduce the burden on overwhelmed hospital staff, Horgan said.
"Most importantly, I want people to think about those nurses and those care aides and those doctors and all of the people on our front lines who have been giving every single week, every single month, for over a year to keep British Columbians safe. We cannot thank them enough."
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the COVID-19-related death of a child under the age of two among seven other deaths since Friday, bringing the number of fatalities to 1,538 since the pandemic began.
"It is a true tragedy and it's a reflection of the impact this virus is having across our community," she said of the child who had some pre-existing issues and died at B.C. Children's Hospital.
Another 2,960 people tested positive for the virus in the last three days, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. to 120,040.
Henry says hospital staff who are struggling to keep up are discouraged that some people are not taking pandemic measures seriously.
Henry has extended COVID-19 restrictions banning indoor dining and adult fitness activities at gyms for another five weeks and she says B.C. will join other provinces in providing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and up, instead of starting at age 55.
Henry said some restaurants and bars have pushed the limit by seating large numbers of people on patios and some gyms have also not been following restrictions during a three-week period that she extended until after the long weekend in May.
While people have been encouraged to gather outdoors in groups of up to 10 in their bubble, it's concerning that some have skirted those guidelines, she said.
B.C. will join Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba in providing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and up, instead of starting at age 55, Henry said.
"It's now become clear that the risk of very rare blood clots associated with vaccination (with AstraZeneca) is in the range of about four in a million," Henry said. "We need to put that in the context of what we are seeing across our province right now where COVID transmission rates are very high in many communities and the risk of hospitalization from COVID is about two to four in 100 for most people."
NEW: people aged 40+ can now get vaccinated at local participating pharmacies all over BC.— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) April 19, 2021
✅ Find a full list: https://t.co/7i6JRxwlvL
✅ Contact and book through the pharmacy directly — some have online registration. #CovidBC pic.twitter.com/n8EE7D3i8s
Starting this week, the province will also use AstraZeneca to target vaccination in 13 high-risk communities, mostly in the Fraser Health region.
NEW: People 40+ (born in 1981 or earlier) who live in specific high-transmission neighbourhoods are now eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines starting this week. Learn more: https://t.co/zXVUj3Hkcv #CovidBC pic.twitter.com/pNTQBbL18b— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) April 19, 2021