BC Ferries to deny non-essential travellers, not scheduling extra sailings for May long weekend

File photo.
BC Ferries will now deny customers who are travelling for non-essential reasons

As the province implements new restrictions, prohibiting non-essential travel between health regions, BC Ferries is taking action to support these new rules.

Starting immediately, BC Ferries will deny travel to customers travelling for non-essential reasons on sailings that cross between health authority zones as defined in the Order.

The company says customers travelling on these routes will be asked if their travel is essential, and will be denied if it doesn’t fall within the provincial exemptions.

READ MORE: B.C. travel ban between health authorities now in effect until May 25

For those travelling on routes that operate within the same health authority zone, BC Ferries says it will remind all customers that they should be avoiding non-essential travel at this time.

“BC Ferries supports doing everything we can to discourage non-essential travel, and this Order gives us the legal authority we need to deny travel for non-essential reasons,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “Our employees continue to work hard providing service transporting people, goods and medical supplies to coastal BC communities for essential reasons, and I’m proud of the work they are doing.”

While they can deny boarding to non-essential travellers, BC Ferries says will rely on other jurisdictional authorities for assistance with enforcement of this Order.

But for the employees who will be the ones to enforce some of these rules, the pressure is mounting.

“Ferry workers are not enforcement officers,” said Graeme Johnson, the president of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union. “[Ferry workers] know most British Columbians will work with us to flatten the curve, but are concerned about abuse from ignorant passengers.”

BC Ferries says they have a zero-tolerance policy for verbal and physical abuse from passengers.

Johnson says workers have been told there will be increased security and management presence to help assist, and police will be called when required.

As a result of these new restrictions, BC Ferries is not scheduling extra sailings for the May long weekend.

The company has also added a new tool to help customers, adding a check box to the online booking flow of the website to ensure customers read and acknowledge they are travelling for essential reasons when making a booking.

“It is vitally important for people to stay close to home over these next five weeks so we can drive down the spread of COVID and look forward to a more familiar summer,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The vast majority of people are putting the health and safety of others first, and the added measures we’re now taking are meant to ensure others don’t travel unless it is essential.”

BC Ferries has previously said it will continue to run to ensure that essential goods can be transported to the island and other communities.

The following routes will be affected by these new rules.

  • Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay
  • Tsawwassen – Duke Point
  • Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands
  • Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay
  • Comox – Powell River
  • Port Hardy – Prince Rupert

For the latest information on sailing schedules and information, visit the BC Ferries website.

READ MORE: BC Ferries sailing forced to turn around due to belligerent anti-masker

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