Alberta Mounties handed out seven $1,200 fines to U.S. travellers stopped at Banff National Park last week.
According to Alberta RCMP media relations manager Fraser Logan, the fines were issued under the Alberta Public Health Act and are not criminal in nature.
“The Banff RCMP mostly responded to the complaints reactively,” Logan told Black Press media by phone Monday (June 22).
He wasn’t able to comment on individual tickets but said that circumstances could include being stopped in parking lot near a hiking spot with out-of-country plates. The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed to Black Press Media that Americans are allowed to drive over the Canadian border in order to get to Alaska, but are not allowed to make any non-essential stops along the way.
“Non-symptomatic foreign nationals, travelling through Canada for non-discretionary purposes, such as to return home to Alaska, may transit through Canada,” the CBSA said in a statement.
The agency said Americans must provide a substantive reason as to why their travel to Alaska is essential, and may not enter Canada if they are travelling to the northern state for discretionary purposes. Travellers who are allowed in are given a handout from the Public Health Agency of Canada which says to not to make any unnecessary stops, and avoid contact with others.
Logan said that officers who spot American licence plates can exercise discretion as to whether they will hand out a fine or simply issue a warning, although he said travellers from anywhere outside of Alberta “need to do your own research” to make sure they are following COVID-related rules.
“We’re reiterating that education first and enforcement second,” he said. “There are different situations as to why someone may have a U.S. registered vehicle.”
Those reasons could include dual citizenship or being in Canada for work or other essential reasons.
But the CBSA said anyone misrepresenting the purpose of their visit to Canada could face serious consequences. Violating the Quarantine Act could lead to fines up to $750,000 and six months in jail, while causing a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm could net up to $1 million in fines and three years in jail.
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