A South Surrey grandmother thought she was doing the right thing by going into the U.S. to buy gasoline after the B.C. government placed a 30-litre limit on the amount of fuel drivers are allowed to purchase at one time.
Instead, Marlane Jones was hit with a $5,700 fine.
On Sunday, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair announced that British Columbians from border communities can go to the U.S. for essential reasons and return without a COVID-19 PCR test.
Blair said that essential reasons include gas and food, due to gas rationing implemented by the B.C. government. He said that visiting family, checking on U.S. properties or a vacation are not essential reasons.
Jones, who described herself as a “nice retired lady,” said she thought she was doing the right thing by saving gas for people in Surrey who really need it – “young people that are commuting.”
“For my deed, I got hit with a $5,700 fine,” she said.
Jones said she was also told by CBSA officials to take a COVID-19 test. She now has to wait, in isolation, for her results to come back negative.
In total, Jones said, she was in the U.S. for 10 minutes.
When asked about Blair’s comments and statements from CBSA that B.C. residents affected by flood rations would be allowed to cross into the U.S., Jones said CBSA officers didn’t know what she was talking about.
“They said to me, ‘Nope, we haven’t been told that.’ One of them said I was the ninth person this morning that was fined. And that was before 8 a.m.”
The CBSA has not yet responded for a request for comment or clarification.
However, CBSA wrote on Twitter that “given the situation in BC, travellers and essential workers who must travel to or through the USA for essential reasons (food, fuel, supply chains) are exempt from testing and quarantine requirements. These exemptions do not apply to non-essential travel.”
Asked on Twitter if a Delta resident can drive to Point Roberts for gas or milk, CBSA replied:
“Essential travel refers to all travel for non-discretionary and non-optional purposes, including but not limited to food, fuel, and supply chains. Optional or discretionary travel examples include tourism, recreation, and entertainment.”
Jones said she was given the option of a $5,700 fine and mandatory quarantine, or she could get a PCR test in the U.S. and wait 72 hours before crossing into Canada.
Jones, who took the fine, said she will fight it in court.
“I have to tell you, for a grandma – I’m a nice lady – I was really scared, the way they talked to me. This sounds kind of terrible, I could have accepted being given the gears from the U.S., but not coming back into my own country.”