B.C.’s top doctor calls reports of unessential ferry travel ‘overblown’

WatchHeading into this Easter Weekend British Columbians were urged to avoid non-essential travel at all costs. But clearly, some haven’t been taking the advice. RV Campers, bikes, and boats were spotted filing onto Ferries. But with no actual legal enforcement in place, there’s nothing to stop the people who have tuned out advice from Provincial Officials.

Leading up to Easter weekend the message from provincial leaders was clear: only travel if it’s absolutely essential.

If not, stay home.

But that hasn’t been the case thus far on the Easter long weekend.

Recreational vehicles, camper vans, and plenty more clues that scream non-essential travel have climbed on board at various ferry terminals. And those going on vacation, claimed it wouldn’t be a big deal.

“We got a property there two acres isolated from everybody,” said one man who was about to board a ferry for Vancouver Island.

“We probably won’t see another person the whole weekend were there,” added another man.

The comments come as dozens of cars are lining up at ferry terminals on Friday.

READ MORE: BC Ferries sees increased ridership during long weekend, small communities worried

During her regular coronavirus updates, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Saturday that recent media reports of packed ferries are exaggerated.

“I did actually talk with BC Ferries to get a sense of whether some of the perhaps overblown that are out there and they did confirm that they’re only seeing a fraction of the traffic that they normally would on this weekend,” she said.

Asked whether there is a need for increased enforcement or lockdown measures in British Columbia, Henry said she didn’t believe there was.

“I don’t believe that there is a need for [increased] enforcement or lockdowns or any of those types of measures,” she said.

BC Ferries is currently operating at 50 per cent capacity; measures that have been taken in response to declining demand and to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As a result, there has been a significant drop off in passengers compared to last year’s Easter weekend, say BC Ferries and the province.  Walk-on passenger numbers were down 84 per cent while vehicle traffic was down 76 per cent this past Good Friday compared to the previous year, the province told CHEK News in an e-mailed statement.

“We are urging people to listen to Dr. Henry and avoid all non-essential travel. BC Ferries is currently operating at reduced capacity and following new temporary Transport Canada regulations,” the province said in their statement to CHEK News.

But for small places like Galiano Island, a reduced number of travelers offers no relief.

“We have a very limited medical response here. We have a half time doctor and once nurse practitioner, we have no ventilators,” said Galiano Island resident Jane Wolverton.

British Columbia has reported an overall total of 1,445 cases of COVID-19.





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