B.C.’s government is handing COVID-19 border screening work over to Ottawa effective June 20.
The measures, which were begun in April, helped ensure British Columbians returning from international trips had support needed to manage self-isolation plans while working to halt infection spread.
While B.C. implemented screening measures for those arriving from abroad early in the pandemic, Ottawa has been refining its own enhanced screening measures for those arriving from international destinations, including the United States, to a B.C. port of entry.
From April 10 to June 15, B.C. processed more than 72,400 passengers arriving at the Vancouver Airport or at 17 land border crossings into B.C. More than 26,100 follow-up calls have been completed to check in on progress with those self-isolating.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said June 16 limits would remain on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States will continue until at least July 21. Efforts have been made to allow reunification of families separated by the border.
Since provincial screening began, B.C. has quarantined 142 people for a two-week period, or until their self-isolation plan was deemed adequate, the government said.
“Anyone arriving in Canada must now document their self-isolation plans, for example through the ArriveCan app,” a provincial government news release said. “The federal government will continue to ensure those arriving in B.C. with or without symptoms are self-isolating for 14 days, per the federal Quarantine Act.
Said Premier John Horgan, “The work to put these processes in place in such a short amount of time has been extraordinary, and this would not have been possible if it weren't for the co-operation and collaboration of the federal government, the Vancouver Airport Authority and our network of public safety partners.”
“The evolution of federally led border measures has allowed the B.C. public service to step back from border screenings and redeploy our resources to best limit the spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia,” Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said.
While Ottawa takes over generally, B.C. will continue measures for temporary foreign workers arriving for seasonal farm work. They will be required to self-isolate in government-funded accommodations near the airport for 14 days prior to being transported to farms throughout B.C.
During their self-isolation period, the province conducts screening for symptoms, and Service BC conducts check-in calls with each worker during their stay.
All temporary foreign workers will be screened prior to leaving self-isolation to go to worksites. Once on the farms, workers continue to self-monitor and are monitored for symptoms by their employer.
Ottawa took an active role in repatriating Canadians abroad at the pandemic’s start, transporting many to a central quarantine site at CFB Trenton. That included Canadians from Wuhan, China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship.