FILE - A view from the water shows the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre. On Thursday, July 30, 2020, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced the decision to restrict non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii in response to the ongoing community outbreak of COVID-19. (Haida Gwaii Observer/File photo)

Province restricts non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii amid COVID outbreak

Provincial staff will help enforce travel restrictions from islands, mainland

The province has restricted non-residents from travelling to Haida Gwaii to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 20 islanders to date.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced the ministerial order on Thursday (July 30) under the state of provincial emergency.

According to the order, people who travel to Haida Gwaii must have documentation to establish that they are a resident or are travelling for an essential purpose.

Acceptable proof of residency includes government-issued identification with a Haida Gwaii address, a status card indicating Skidegate or Old Massett membership, or a signed declaration of residency.

Travel to the islands for delivery of essential goods and supplies, medical appointments, urgent or emergency family matters, or the provision of essential services will be subject to the approval of the unified command structure comprised of the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), village councils and local governments.

“The Province, Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority are working closely with the Haida Nation and local governments on Haida Gwaii to respond to this COVID-19 outbreak,” Farnworth said in a release. “Our foremost concern is the health and safety of all residents of Haida Gwaii, and we’re working together to limit further spread of COVID-19.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: No new cases on Haida Gwaii in past 24 hours

Provincial staff will also be deployed to help enforce the travel restriction.

A spokesperson for Emergency Management BC told the Observer that initially, provincial staff will be on hand at the Prince Rupert ferry terminal to support unified command in advising travellers of the order.

“Our focus continues to be on education, and ensuring the travelling public, whether by ferry, boat or plane, understands what this order means and why it is necessary,” the spokesperson said.

A BC Ferries service notice on July 31 also advised customers that provincial conservation officers were enforcing the order by screening passengers at the Prince Rupert terminal prior to all sailings to Haida Gwaii.

“Non-resident customers with bookings on sailings will be contacted by email with further details,” the notice said.

ALSO READ: Haida Gwaii COVID cases may be flown to mainland: health officials

In a separate release, the CHN said the travel restriction would be in place for the duration of the community outbreak, and the outbreak “is not likely to be declared over by the medical health officer until there have been no new COVID-19 positive cases confirmed for 28 consecutive days on Haida Gwaii.”

Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop said the restriction was an “important step toward a renewed partnership in emergency management.”

Billy Yovanovich and Duffy Edgars, chief councillors of the Skidegate Band Council and Old Massett Village Council, respectively, also said they were glad to hear the announcement.

“It will help our local efforts in controlling the outbreak of COVID-19,” Yovanovich said. “The order will be a reset button for our local governments on Haida Gwaii to commit to working together to free us all from this virus as soon as possible.”

As of July 29, there were 13 COVID-19 cases that were considered active on the islands and seven had recovered.

It’s believed the 20 cases are all linked to residents who travelled off-island or had contact with a resident who travelled off-island.

Do you have something we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13.
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read