Albertans free to visit Okanagan, Kamloops despite worst COVID rates in Canada | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Albertans free to visit Okanagan, Kamloops despite worst COVID rates in Canada

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
May 04, 2021 - 7:00 AM

While new travel restrictions are aimed at keeping people living in COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland from infecting the Interior, there’s no ban on Albertans travelling into B.C. from the most infected province in the country.

This shows the seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases recorded in B.C. (left) versus Alberta since Augusts. Cases are in Green, hospitalizations in blue and deaths in red.
This shows the seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases recorded in B.C. (left) versus Alberta since Augusts. Cases are in Green, hospitalizations in blue and deaths in red.
Image Credit: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Rules banning non-essential travel between the Lower Mainland and the combined Interior and Northern Health regions were put in place on April 23. They will be enforced by the RCMP, although the road checks that they've been empowered to establish through to May 25 have yet to be set up.

READ MORE: UPDATE: All you need is driver with good excuse to travel between B.C. Interior and Lower Mainland

This comes at a time when daily case counts are falling in B.C., although the rate of hospitalization is still very high.

B.C. recorded 78 new cases of COVID per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, ending May 2. Alberta’s rate was 296 per 100,000, the highest in Canada. Even Ontario, which has been struggling with high case counts, recorded only 170 per 100,000 new cases over that time period and Quebec was at 82.

This shows the number of new cases recorded in Canada over the past week, ending May 2, 2021.
This shows the number of new cases recorded in Canada over the past week, ending May 2, 2021.
Image Credit: Submitted/Healt-Infobase Canada

Even the case counts in the B.C. COVID hot spots in the Fraser Health region don’t come close to comparing. That region had just over 30 cases per 100,000 residents.

B.C. has not given a clear reason for not including Alberta in a travel ban.

Mike Farnworth, B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, was asked during a news briefing on April 23 why there was no ban against Albertan tourists, similar to restrictions put in place at times in the Maritimes.

“The situation in British Columbia is, I would argue, significantly different than that of Atlantic Canada, for size, for geography of our province,” was his answer.

READ MORE: Can Albertans travel to B.C.? Yes, but with some odd restrictions

This shows the number of new cases by B.C. health region since August with cases in green, hospitalizations in blue and deaths in red.
This shows the number of new cases by B.C. health region since August with cases in green, hospitalizations in blue and deaths in red.
Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced May 3 that the legislature will not sit until at least May 17.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Alberta recorded more than 2,000 new COVID cases a day. That compares to about 800 per day in B.C. last week.

Hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton have been scaling back non-emergency surgeries to make room for COVID patients. B.C. has done that as well, on a small scale, in some Lower Mainland Hospitals.

READ MORE: Alberta's Kenny suspends house as COVID cases soar: Opposition calls him a 'coward'

There are 648 people in hospital in Alberta versus 511 in B.C., although B.C. has more in intensive care at 174 to 155.

These numbers have to also be put into perspective based on the size of the populations in each province. Alberta has an estimated 4.4 million residents compared to 5.1 million in B.C.

Alberta doesn't allow indoor social gatherings, outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, stores remain open but at a limited capacity and, as in B.C., restaurants can only serve food and drink on outdoor patios.

Last week, gyms were closed and Grade 7-12 students were sent home in high case areas of Alberta.

But there are no travel restrictions in Alberta. B.C. is putting signs on highways entering the province advising against non-essential travel and hotels are being asked to discourage out-of-province tourists.

But Albertans don’t face any fines for entering the Interior of B.C. They can only be ticketed if they travel to the Lower Mainland where, just like Interior residents, they face $575 fines if caught.

READ MORE: Can Albertans travel to B.C.? Yes, but with some odd restrictions

Alberta’s higher case numbers are not something new.

Since the start of the pandemic, Alberta has recorded about 195,000 cases, compared to 129,000 in B.C. it has also recorded more deaths at almost 2,100 versus almost 1,600 in B.C.

Over the last seven days, to May 2, Alberta recorded 13,092 new cases of COVID versus 3,996 in B.C. It has 22,920 active cases versus 8,116 in B.C., 6,735 of which are in the Lower Mainland.

For more national data, go here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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