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BC Ferries still advising against non-essential travel as long weekend nears

Ferries are continuing to operate with reduced passenger capacity and reduced schedules
BC-ferries
BC Ferries. File photo

BC Ferries is, once again, reminding people to avoid non-essential travel and that it is continuing to operate with reduced passenger capacity and reduced schedules.

“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 said in a May 11 release.

“Many communities served by BC Ferries have issued advisories to travellers notifying them of limited supplies, health-care equipment and resources… Customers should inform themselves of local situations and remain committed to essential travel only,” the release said.

BC Ferries also said as well as continuing to sail with only 50 per cent of the usual passenger capacity allowed on board, it continues to follow the Transport Canada direction to screen all passengers boarding sailings of more than 30 minutes.

Transport Canada has also encouraged people riding ferries to wear face coverings to cover their mouth and nose during travel if they cannot maintain proper physical distance while on board.

All food and retail outlets and vending machines at terminals and on the ships remain closed as well.

Local governments in popular destinations like the Sunshine Coast, meanwhile, are also issuing reminders coming up to the long weekend.

“We are keeping our eye to the May long weekend and hear your concerns about non-essential travel to the Sunshine Coast,” Sunshine Coast Regional District chair Lori Pratt said in a May 5 video update. “We are following the advice from our provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and continuing to encourage travellers to not come here at this time unless it is essential.”

Sunshine Coast RCMP said this week that they are preparing as they normally would for a long weekend in the spring and summer and they’re also “monitoring” the situation after some public statements, including an email to local governments, on the Easter long weekend from a person who claimed they intended to block ferry traffic.

“RCMP support a person’s right to lawful protest, however, any disruptions such as blocking a highway will not be tolerated and persons involved risk arrest and criminal charges,” Staff Sgt. Poppy Hallam said. 

RCMP have also responded to a few calls recently involving conflicts over physical distancing and tourism. Police say that while people should still record and report any concerning behaviour, they should avoid confrontations.

“We do not want to see normally law-abiding citizens getting caught up in a conflict that leads to criminal charges,” Hallam said.

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