B.C. Premier John Horgan tours an expanded health clinic in Sooke, June 12, 2020. (B.C. government)

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Premier John Horgan says Americans travelling through British Columbia on their way to Alaska or returning home should not stop in the province while COVID-19 cases continue rising in the United States.

Horgan said Thursday he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels and in stores on Vancouver Island instead of heading straight to their destination, putting local residents at risk.

He said licence plates from Texas and California have been spotted in Port Renfrew, which is not on the way to Alaska.

Horgan said he has spoken with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland about the need for her to discuss the issue with American officials.

B.C. has kept its infection rates low and the province’s progress should not be lost to “queue jumpers” as outbreaks of COVID-19 have increased in many states, he said.

“Outbreaks in Washington state, California, Arizona, Texas are absolutely unacceptable. We have to maintain our border security so we can protect the progress we’ve made here in British Columbia,” Horgan said.

“We do not want to make it more difficult for people to get home but if you’re going home you should go straight home. You shouldn’t be stopping along the way to enjoy the sights and sounds of British Columbia. That’s not part of the plan.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in mid-June that the federal government is looking into reports of U.S. tourists flouting measures around the border shutdown. The Canada-U.S. border was closed to non-essential travel in March with some exceptions, including for asymptomatic Americans heading to Alaska, and could reopen on July 21.

Horgan said he has maintained during 15 consecutive weeks of meetings with the other premiers, Trudeau and Freeland that the border needs to remain closed until the U.S. demonstrates it has ”a handle on this pandemic.”

Horgan made the comments during an announcement with Health Minister Adrian Dix on a larger-than-expected expansion of Richmond Hospital.

A new tower would include 220 more beds for a total of 350 beds, as well as a new emergency room, pharmacy and intensive care unit. More services for children and those experiencing mental health issues are also part of the project.

Horgan said the budget for the expansion would be determined at the end of September but is “several hundreds of millions” more than the initial estimated amount of about $300 million.

The expansion is among several hospital construction projects slated for the province, which also intends to build a new facility by 2026 to replace St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver years after it was deemed unsafe in the event of an earthquake.

READ MORE: B.C. repairs COVID-19 emergency order for local government

READ MORE: More than 50,000 Coronavirus cases reported per day in US

— By Camille Bains in Vancouver

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The great Brent Carver has passed away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors, has passed away at home in Cranbrook

History Centre launches walking tours of historic downtown Cranbrook

The Cranbrook History Centre is about to begin a series of Guided… Continue reading

Metal detector rings true for Cranbrook couple

A Cranbrook couple went looking for a missing ring after reading a plea on Facebook

Kootenay doctor among 82 physicians, dentists calling on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

A memorial disc golf tour of the East Kootenay

This past weekend, a few friends and I embarked on a weekend… Continue reading

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Smoker Farms bringing craft-style cannabis to Beaverdell

Husband-wife team growing small-scale cultivations of marijuana

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

North Okanagan man chains himself to tree in protest of construction

Crews began work clearing space for a new facility Thursday, Aug. 6

Most Read