B.C. transitions COVID-19 border screening to federal government

IN early April, the Province introduced COVID-19 border screening measures, unprecedented in Canada, to help ensure British Columbians returning home from international destinations had the support they need to manage self-isolation plans and keep B.C. communities safe.

While these border measures were pioneered in British Columbia, other provinces, the federal government and all Canadians have benefited as similar measures have since been implemented nationwide.

Following the current transition period with the federal government, B.C. will end provincially led border check points on Saturday, June 20. Federal screening measures currently in place will continue. Service BC will also continue compliance and wellness checks to ensure travellers can effectively maintain their 14-day self-isolation.

“B.C. continues to be a North American leader in the fight against COVID-19, and much credit goes to the hundreds of B.C. public service employees who raised their hands to make sure those arriving home do so safely – both for themselves and for all of us working to keep COVID-19 at bay,” 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.”

Following the implementation of screening measures in British Columbia, the federal government has been continually refining its own enhanced screening measures for those arriving from international destinations, including the United States, to a British Columbian port of entry. Anyone arriving in Canada must now document their self-isolation plans, for example through the ArriveCan app. 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.

“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,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “The hundreds of public servants who deployed to YVR and the land borders – and indeed all British Columbians – should be proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

From April 10 to June 15, the Province processed more than 72,400 passengers arriving at the Vancouver Airport or at 17 land border crossings into B.C. More than 26,100 successful follow-up calls have been completed to check in on progress with those self-isolating.

Since provincial screening began, the Province has housed a total of 142 people for a two-week quarantine period, or until their self-isolation plan was deemed adequate.

“B.C.’s leadership with this initiative proved to be a key measure in the fight to keep British Columbians safe, and our government couldn’t be prouder of the hard work and dedication of provincial staff,” said Ravi Kahlon, MLA for Delta North. “Over the past months, I’ve had the honour of working with public servants from across government as they’ve stepped up to provide information, help people quarantine and make sure everyone follows the directions of the provincial health officer. British Columbia owes them a debt of gratitude for this accomplishment.”

Provincial screening measures will continue for temporary foreign workers arriving in B.C. for seasonal farm work. These workers are 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 are screened by health professionals 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.