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

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Fruitvale

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

Trail Blazers: Looking at the pioneers of leadership

Trail Blazers is a weekly historical feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

MP reflects on Okanagan-Kootenay travels

Richard Cannings is in his second term as MP for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding

Person steals sound system, Ipad from Rossland restaurant

Mook Thai Lounge staff have had to buy a new sound system at a cost of $700

Cancelling ‘Not an Option’ for Kidney March 2020

Kidney March organizers knew this year was going to look very different.

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

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

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

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

VIDEO: A B.C business used robots to bring down concrete walls

Walco Industries is the only firm on Vancouver Island to use specialized robots for hydro-demolition

As CERB winds down, labour group asks Liberals to rethink EI

The government estimates four million people will be moved onto EI after CERB ends

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Practical fashion: Local designers make supplies for Nelson dentists

Surgical caps and gowns have been in short supply for dentists during the pandemic

Most Read