FILE - Haida Nation President Gaagwiis, Jason Alsop, speaks at a ceremony at the Howard Phillips Community Hall. On March 23, 2020, the Council of the Haida Nation and other governments on Haida Gwaii declared a local state of emergency within their jurisdictions. (Roberta Aiken/Byrd’s Eye View Photography)

‘This decision is critical’: Haida Gwaii declares state of emergency due to COVID-19

UPDATE: Port Clements Mayor Doug Daugert says Emergency Operations Centre ‘more a virtual centre’

Governments on Haida Gwaii have declared a state of emergency to reduce the potential impact of COVID-19.

On Monday, the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), Skidegate Band Council, Old Massett Village Council, Village of Queen Charlotte, Village of Port Clements, Village of Masset and the North Coast Regional District (NCRD) officially declared a state of emergency within their jurisdictions.

In accordance with B.C.’s Emergency Program Act, the state of emergency will remain in effect for seven days — until March 30 at midnight — unless it is cancelled sooner by government. After seven days there will be a mandatory review process to determine whether it must continue.

ALSO READ: Prince Rupert city council declares state of emergency

A joint release shared by the island communities and NCRD said the state of emergency means “travel to and from communities within the NCRD will be controlled and limited to essential services only.”

All residents who are not working in essential services are asked to stay home and those working in essential services are asked to practise social distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 metres from those around them.

Residents who are returning from travel “are strongly recommended to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning.”

More information on essential services — which encompass health care operations, retail and more — can be found online at

ALSO READ: Cities warned from declaring local states of emergency, Abbotsford mayor says

The state of emergency also activates each community’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) — with the CHN operating the Unified Central Command — and gives “key personnel greater flexibility to access resources and respond efficiently to emergent circumstances.”

“Declaring a local state of emergency allows us to take additional measures to ensure we have the resources needed to maintain essential services and meet the demands of other agencies, including the health authorities and emergency responders,” NCRD Chair Barry Pages said in his declaration.

ALSO READ: Village of Masset residential recycle bins closed until further notice

A similar order posted on the Village of Port Clements website, signed by Mayor Doug Daugert, said the state of emergency means the village and its employees are empowered to “do all acts and implement all procedures that are considered necessary to prevent or to alleviate the effects of the emergency.”

In practice, Daugert told the Observer the Port Clements EOC is “more a virtual centre” and the state of emergency mainly means three things: a coordinated response; grounds for the temporary cessation of non-essential services; and the ability to make decisions that would normally require a council motion on the fly.

“We don’t really gain a lot in terms of ability to enforce these things,” he said. “But it does give the ability to organize better.

“Mostly it is to try to get a coordinated response across the islands … and with Prince Rupert.”

Daugert added that it “gets people’s attention so they’re more likely to cooperate with the recommendations.”

ALSO READ: Hearts in windows connect Haida Gwaii residents while social distancing, self-isolating

In the CHN declaration, Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop said the state of emergency is “critical to the public health of all island citizens.”

“It is based on advice from local health professionals and will limit the risks that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to our island communities,” Alsop said. “There are no confirmed cases on Haida Gwaii at this time and we are doing all that we can to ensure the ongoing safety of our communities.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

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

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new online sign-up service, 24/7 WiFi

Residents without library cards can now sign up online, access eLibrary

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Ray of sunshine: Sandspit station forecasts clear skies all week

Meteorologist Bobby Sekhon says nice weather is ‘certainly a welcome change’

UPDATE: Man drowns crossing Skeena River

59-year old Prince Rupert victim pronounced dead at Mills Memorial

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

Most Read