A U.S. family who told border officials they were transiting British Columbia between Alaska and the lower 48 states has been kicked out of Canada, after being caught vacationing in Vancouver.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the family entered B.C. on Aug. 25 from Alaska, and was found to be on holiday in Vancouver on Aug. 29.
“They were supposed to go straight to the Peace Arch border crossing, they did not do that,” said Farnworth.
“This is not a game, and we have been very clear that Americans have been told that they have to follow these rules.
“And clearly, in this case, the family chose not to and as a result they face the consequences and have to pay a penalty.”
The family was escorted by authorities to the Peace Arch border crossing, fined under the Quarantine Act, and “deposited” in the U.S., said Farnworth.
It was not immediately clear how much the family was fined, but the act provides for fines of up to $750,000 in fines and/or imprisonment of up to six months.
A number of U.S. citizens have been handed $1,200 fines for vacationing in the Alberta Rockies.
Global News has requested more information from Vancouver police, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.
The federal government implemented new regulations at the end of August meant to crack down on the so-called ‘Alaska loophole.’
Under the rules, American citizens are still allowed to transit Canada between Alaska and the lower 48 states, but can only use five southern crossings, and must take the most direct route to their destination, stopping only for essentials, such as gas, food and sleep.
They are also banned from driving through national parks, leisure sites and tourism locations.
In-transit travellers are issued a “hang tag” for their rearview mirror, with information about when they entered the country and when they are expected to leave.
Farnworth said the family’s actions were disappointing, as they threatened to chip away at the progress B.C. has made in fighting COVID-19.
“It’s unfortunate that you get these individuals who want to ruin it for everyone else and endanger other people,” he said.
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