COVID-19: RCMP arrest and seize vessel of U.S. boater entering B.C. waters for violating Quarantine Act

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      A recurring concern among British Columbians during the COVID-19 pandemic has been about cases brought into the province from travel from neighbouring regions or abroad, even though the border has been closed to all non-essential traffic.

      While concerns about Americans travelling through B.C. using the Alaska loophole, the federal government had introduced stricter guidelines that came into effect on July 31.

      Another remaining area of concern has been about Americans coming into Canada by water.

      The RCMP's Ship Rider Program has been fining U.S. boaters who violate the Quarantine Act.

      Boaters who are found illegally in Canadian waters can receive severe penalties, including fines, vessel seizure, and criminal charges.

      Today (September 30), B.C. RCMP stated that during a patrol along the Canada–U.S. marine border in B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands area on September 27, officers came upon a Seasport cabin cruiser from Bellingham, Washington.

      Police found a 49-year-old U.S. man from Bellingham and a 50-year-old woman from Surrey aboard the ship.

      According to RCMP, the man had left his home port that morning and picked up his girlfriend at Elgin Park Marina in Surrey.

      Not only did the man fail to report crossing over the border from the U.S. into Canada, he did not meet the entry requirements for entry under the Quarantine Act.

      Officers arrested the man under the Customs Act and seized his vessel for failing to report his border crossing.

      RCMP fined the man $1,000 for contravention of the Quarantine Act, and he was released without further charges. He was required to pay an additional $1,000 for his boat to be returned to him, and he was required to leave Canada immediately.

      Meanwhile, the woman was taken to Crescent Beach Marina and returned home, where she will self-isolate for 14 days and seek testing if any COVID-19 symptoms develop.

      Federal reporting requirements for private boaters during the pandemic are available at the Canadian government website. Non-essential across the Canada–U.S. border has been extended to October 21. 

      During the pandemic, Washington state has had over 87,500 COVID-19 cases while B.C. has had over 9,000 cases.

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