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Petition pushes to end non-essential travel to Vancouver Island during COVID-19

Last Updated Apr 13, 2020 at 10:11 pm PST

Summary

A petition with about 40,000 signatures is circulating in an effort to eliminate all non-essential travel to the Island

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP says more needs to be done to make sure any travel between the mainland and the Island is essential

NANAIMO (NEWS 1130) — After a long weekend that saw some busy ferry lineups to Vancouver Island, a strong call is being made to the province and the feds to eliminate all non-essential travel to that region during this pandemic.

One online petition has already garnered thousands of signatures, and Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly has written to Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking them to strengthen regulations.

Manly says the measures don’t have to be complicated.

“What we need is to have a checkpoint on the way to the ferry so people can be asked ‘What’s the intention of your trip?’ not to stop people, but just to get them to think about what they’re doing, and encourage them to turn around if they don’t have essential business on the Island or any of the smaller islands … they should be discouraged from travelling.”

That idea was put into action in Tofino on Friday, something Manly applauds.

While it turned out many people who were questioned at that checkpoint between Tofino and Ucluelet were residents, the MP says it wasn’t the whole story.

“They had people that had driven all the way out there who thought they were just going to spend the weekend hanging around when everything was closed. It’s a small community where they don’t have health facilities to handle a big influx of people being sick. I think people just need to understand and respect that.”

Manly wants that sentiment to extend to the Ferries.

It’s not within the power of BC Ferries to turn someone away unless they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, so Manly believes a more proactive approach to a non-essential travel ban is the only way to ensure essential workers who need that service can stay safe.

“I’m a big believer in civil liberties,” Manly said.

“Our ferries are an essential service. They are a part of our highway system. But we also have essential workers transporting food to the Island, and we don’t want [non-essential travellers] them at risk, and we don’t want them putting ferry workers at risk.”