Trust and BC Ferries advise people avoid non-essential travel this May Long weekend

Sounder News

Monday, May 11 2020

The Islands Trust, and BC Ferries, have both issued press releases ahead of the May Long Weekend asking visitors to stay close to home, and avoid non-essential travel.

This follows Premier John Horgan’s statement last week, in which he acknowledged people may want to travel this long weekend to secondary homes they have on Vancouver Island and in the gulf islands.

Horgan pointed out that while people may have a right to go to their secondary homes, it would be better to do so later in June or July, when the COVID-19 situation is more under control, and when other restrictions are being lifted.

This weekend, he said, people are better to stay home, and enjoy their own part of British Columbia.

According to the Islands Trust statement, the region is known for its welcoming farm stands, markets, and art studios - but elected leaders are once again reminding people to avoid non-essential travel to the Gulf and Howe Sound islands and to minimize community interactions.

As the Province starts to reopen gradually, the Islands Trust Council reminds visitors to stay close to home, and continue physical distancing and other measures a little bit longer.

Trust Council suggests islanders continue to limit community interactions and refrain from extending invitations to visitors. 

Peter Luckham, Chair of the Islands Trust Council said, “As we head into the May long weekend, we need people to remember our pleas that they avoid non-essential travel to the Gulf and Howe Sound islands and minimize community interactions as directed by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“On most islands, our medical resources are non-existent or limited. In most cases, it is volunteers who offer first response, and we don’t want to put them at risk. Most island residents are over 60, which is one of the reasons we are insistent about people avoiding non-essential travel and minimizing community interaction. When you avoid contact with others, you limit the chances the COVID virus has to spread.”

The Trust points out the Canadian Coast Guard has requested that mariners avoid non-essential trips and consider staying close to home to save lives. Boaters already in the Trust Area are asked to avoid making supply and grocery trips on the islands. 

“Thank you for staying close to home,” offered Chair Luckham. “We look forward to the time when we can once again welcome visitors to these beautiful islands.”

BC Ferries issued a statement on May 11 reminding customers to avoid non-essential travel for Victoria Day long weekend saying, “in keeping with direction provided by the Province of British Columbia last week, BC Ferries continues to advise customers to avoid non-essential travel at this time, including the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend.”

The ferry company notes many communities served by BC Ferries have issued advisories to travellers notifying them of limited supplies, healthcare equipment and resources. 

These communities include Haida Gwaii, Southern Gulf Islands, Northern Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. 

Customers are advised to inform themselves of local situations and remain committed to essential travel only.

BC Ferries says it , “is dedicated to providing a safe and healthy travel experience for its passengers and employees. For those that need to travel, additional measures have been put in place to keep customers and crew healthy and safe including limiting passenger capacity by 50 per cent to support physical distancing, allowing customers to remain in their vehicles during the sailing and enhanced cleaning. 

“Please note all food and retail outlets at terminals and on board our ships are closed until further notice. This includes vending machines.

“As routes are operating at 50 per cent passenger capacity, the Southern Gulf Islands – Metro Vancouver route has limited service on the Sunday and holiday Monday. Only customers with bookings and correctly identified passenger numbers are assured they will be accommodated on the sailing.

“Transport Canada encourages customers to wear face coverings to cover their mouth and nose during travel if they cannot maintain physical distance from others while on board. In addition, for any route longer than 30 minutes, BC Ferries will continue screening all customers for COVID-19 symptoms and restrict travel to any customer that does not meet the screening requirements, as per the federal guidelines.

“As this situation is rapidly evolving, BC Ferries encourages customers to monitor the website for any additional changes to service. For full details on service changes and the measures BC Ferries is taking in response to COVID-19, visit bcferries.com”