Residents in BC’s border communities who need gas and other essential goods will be able to cross the border into the U.S. and return without requiring a COVID-19 test or quarantine, whether vaccinated or not, a federal flood update. in the province it was said Sunday.
Bill Blair, federal emergency preparedness minister, spoke at a press conference along with other federal ministers of national defense, transportation, employment and the environment who are part of the Incident Response Group.
“People are worried about crossing the border because of the existing COVID restrictions,” Blair said, adding that he spoke with BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth about concerns about shortages of fuel.
Blair said Farnworth asked if people living near border communities could go to the United States to power their vehicles and, upon their return, would be exempt from having to do a molecular test for the virus, after the province imposed restrictions on gas that caused long queues and panic purchases at Vancouver Metro gas stations.
“This is something I think can be accommodated under the exemption regulations that currently exist,” Blair said, a week after BC was first affected by the floods.
“But to be very clear, these exemptions do not apply to non-essential travel. It applies to people who have to travel to the United States to access essential goods and services, but does not include family travel. Vacations or other types. of tourist activity “.
Given the situation in BC, travelers and essential workers who have to travel to or through the U.S. for essential reasons (food, fuel, supply chains) are exempt from the testing and quarantine requirements. These exemptions do not apply to non-essential travel. pic.twitter.com/U1lELIJQE7
Currently, fully vaccinated travelers entering the U.S. by land do not need to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test. But to return to Canada, you need a negative molecular test, such as a PCR test, for the last 72 hours.
Effective November 30, the federal government will rule out the molecular testing required for fully vaccinated Canadians on short trips abroad, for essential or non-essential reasons, to return home.
The displaced, who lost their jobs, were urged to apply for EI immediately
Residents who were displaced or left unemployed due to the floods should immediately apply for employment insurance (EI) benefits, even if they would not normally be eligible, the federal minister said on Sunday. of Employment.
Carla Qualtrough, who was one of the people who spoke at the afternoon press conference, said the federal government waives the requirement for applicants to show an employment record, recognizing that it can be difficult to many get the proper documentation in the current circumstances.
“Obviously it could be very difficult in these times to get this particular document,” he said.
“We are looking at the reality of the benefits of the pandemic and the people who have exhausted their IE have affected their ongoing availability of IE supports.”
Qualtrough said people should apply anyway, adding that the federal government will “get it right” for them one way or another and Ottawa will be there to support British Colombians during this crisis. .
Prohibition of non-essential watercraft traffic
To support military and recovery efforts, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra signed an interim order banning the transit of non-essential watercraft and restricting air travel between Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
Non-essential watercraft are banned in flooded areas of BC, Alghabra said, “to keep sailors safe and clean. [the way] for emergency response “.
“But I want to be clear, this interim order does not preclude the use of boats involved in providing any form of assistance; it only seeks to prevent the use of boats for leisure activities,” Alghabra said on Sunday.
All aircraft are prohibited from flying within 1,000 feet between Abbotsford Airport and Chilliwack Airport.
Meanwhile, 500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground or on their way to BC and thousands more are ready to leave if necessary, said Defense Minister Anita Anand.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Incident Response Group on Sunday morning to discuss the floods, landslides and extreme weather conditions that affected a week ago and are affecting thousands of people in British Columbia and are cause four deaths.
Weather warnings for the north coast of BC
The province is asking people in various areas to prepare for the bad weather on Sunday as residents in other parts of BC continue to face the ravages of floods and mudslides.
Warnings of rain, wind and snowfall are in effect for Haida Gwaii and the central and northern coast of BC while another atmospheric river moves through the region.
The government is urging the north coast of BC to prepare for extreme weather on Sunday, exactly one week after flooding devastated parts of the province. (Christian Amundson / CBC)
Kitimat could receive up to 80 millimeters of rain, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Prince Rupert could see up to 150 millimeters of rain.
Stewart, about 350 miles north of Kitimat, has already received 20 inches of snow, with more expected on Sunday.
Winds of up to 110 km / h are expected to reach Haida Gwaii on Sunday evening and persist until Monday night.
Environment Canada says floods and landslides could occur in northern BC as a result of heavy rains.
Other areas of the province were severely affected by an extreme weather last week that damaged highways, destroyed homes and left several people dead.
Wet snow is expected for Merritt, which was evacuated last week when floodwaters damaged the wastewater treatment facility.
Those working to recover and prevent further damage to Fraser Valley communities like Abbotsford and Chilliwack can expect clear skies on Sunday, but from Monday more rain is expected and could last all week.
On Saturday, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said he was keeping a close eye on weather forecasts, worried the system would expand on Wednesday.
“If there’s 100 millimeters of rain, if it arrives in 24 hours, that’s a problem,” he said.
“If he arrives in three or four days, maybe we’ll be fine.”
According to a tweet from Chilliwack City Council, repairs to the Sumas dike have been completed.
Braun said Friday that ultimately the entire dam may need to be rebuilt to a higher standard to protect the Sumas Meadow, an important agricultural area that suffered heavy flooding due to the neighboring state’s Nooksack River. of Washington.
According to Chilliwack City Council, water levels have begun to fall thanks to the closure of the dike gap and the constant use of the Abbotsford Barrowtown pumping station.
Evacuation alerts have been lifted from Yarrow and Majuba Hill communities, except for nine properties that remain under evacuation order due to flooding.
Officials said Sunday afternoon that the evacuated cattle from Yarrow could begin to return.
The Vedder Mountain road will be closed from Monday morning so teams can start work to install a culvert, rebuild the road and stabilize the slopes.
The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) has issued an evacuation order and an evacuation alert for two properties in Area E of FVRD due to the possibility of a landslide in the area, one of which involves a hotel called Five Baers Farm.
A geotechnical assessment uncovered the slope movement since last week’s rains and tension cracks were found directly above the two properties.
Update, November 21, 9:30 am: At 4 a.m. (November 21), staff received the news that City Hall of #Abbotsford just repaired the gap of the Sumas dike. City of #Chilliwack Staff are monitoring water levels and are still working on repairing the roads.
– @ City_Chilliwack
Okanagan Similkameen Regional District said assessment teams are visiting properties in the region, including Princeton, distributing re-entry kits to homes affected by the floods. The district said it is working to send electricity, gas and catering services to these areas.