BC Ferries’ Northern Expedition. (File photo)

BC Ferries will resume Haida Gwaii sailing amid bans on large gatherings

In worst-case scenario company will continue cargo and freight delivery to islands

Despite growing concern over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, BC Ferries will be exempt from the B.C. Government’s ban on gatherings exceeding 50 people.

Following a period of uncertainty with the company, BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall confirmed with Black Press last Friday that Emergency Management B.C. is allowing heavy sailing routes to remain open, including vital northern routes out of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and south to Port Hardy.

“We won’t shut down service unless we were ordered to by the authorities,” Marshall said. “But our intent would be to continue sailing with freight and cargo, especially to a community like Haida Gwaii because we know how isolated they are, and how much they rely on us for groceries and everything else.”

In a statement on BC Ferries’ website, company president and CEO Mark Collins repeated that measures are in place to mitigate the potential spread of viruses aboard vessels.

“Crews have been taking, and will continue to take, extra measures to clean and disinfect all touch points,” he said. Cleaning is focused on common areas and locations that are touched frequently throughout the day, including tables, handrails, payment pin pads, door handles, and elevator buttons. Cleaning protocols in all washroom facilities have also been stepped up, Collins stated.

He appealed to passengers to maintain sanitary precautions by washing their hands regularly during sailing, or to stay home if sick.

The B.C. government on Monday placed a ban on all events with more than 50, a sharp curtailment from 250 people announced last week, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Northern Adventure and Northern Expedition have a combined crew and passenger capacity of 500 and 538 people respectively.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Province bans large gatherings in B.C.

The federal government also placed a ban on all cruise ships carrying more than 500 people from docking in Canada until July 1.

Go to www.haidagwaiiobserver.com for further updates.

An earlier version of this story stated passengers were barred from self-isolating in their vehicles on closed car decks. The province has since tweeted that restriction will be lifted.

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