Gwaii Haanas will reopen on Aug. 1 to people who meet certain terms set out by the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN).
An opening letter provided to the Observer by the National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on July 6 said people wishing to visit Gwaii Haanas during this unusual summer season will need to attest to a set of conditions.
“The success of preventing COVID-19 transmission on Haida Gwaii and the rest of the Northwest Health region has provided the Archipelago Management Board (AMB) with the confidence to allow local visitors into Gwaii Haanas provided they meet all current travel restrictions in place for Haida Gwaii,” the letter said.
People requesting access to Gwaii Haanas will be required to sign an attestation form, where they confirm that they meet each of the following criteria:
- Be in compliance with the travel restrictions set forth by the CHN, which do not permit non-resident or leisure travel to Haida Gwaii at this time.
- Must not have been outside the Northern Health region in the last 14 days immediately prior to entry and travel in Gwaii Haanas.
- Must not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
- Must not have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, within 14 days of entry and travel in Gwaii Haanas.
Prior to entry, visitors will be required to attend a virtual orientation with Gwaii Haanas staff or through their tour guide.
If the visitor is going with a tour operator, the tour operator must collect a completed attestation form prior to the trip. Tour operators planning to bring visitors into Gwaii Haanas must also submit a COVID-19 safety plan as required by WorkSafeBC and the AMB.
Depending on the type of traveler, the opening letter said, there will be documents and processes that will have to fulfilled before they will be granted access to Gwaii Haanas:
- Independent visitors must complete attestation forms, reservation, orientation and registration.
- Tour visitors must complete attestation forms, orientation and registration.
- Tour operators must complete attestation forms for all employees, fulfill a business license requirement, have a COVID-19 safety plan, as well as complete guide orientation and registration.
- Contractors must complete attestation forms for all employees, as well as the orientation and a contract, and have a COVID-19 safety plan.
- Researchers must complete attestation forms, orientation, and have a permit and a COVID-19 safety plan.
- Employees, including Gwaii Haanas staff, CHN staff, and the Haida Gwaii Watchmen, must complete attestation forms and have a COVID-19 safety plan.
“These documents and processes will be updated as Haida Gwaii, regional, and local health authorities and governments update COVID-19 related restrictions, including travel,” the letter said.
Gwaii Haanas spokesperson Christine Pansino later confirmed that Haida access for traditional use will not require attestations.
Pansino also told the Observer the website is being updated for visitors to be able to follow a clear reservation process.
Gwaii Haanas has been closed to visitors since March 17.
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