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Busy ferry terminals ahead of May-long despite top doctor's orders to stay closer to home

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 6:42 pm PDT


It appears many people may be ignoring B.C.'s top doctor's orders to stay closer to home this long weekend

BC Ferries says it's seeing a large number of passengers on its sailings for Friday morning

BC Ferries continues to ask people to avoid all non-essential travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic

TSAWWASSEN (NEWS 1130) – It’s a May long weekend like no other. Instead of the inaugural trip to the cottage or campground to kick off the summer, you’re being told to explore your own backyard.

“This weekend, less travel is incredibly important. We’re asking that of everyone,” B.C.’s top doctor, Bonnie Henry, said during her regular COVID-19 update on Thursday.

But early indications Friday morning suggest not everyone is listening to doctor’s orders.

While BC Ferries is telling people to avoid non-essential travel, and routes operating at 50 per cent passenger capacity, the first three sailings from Tsawwassen to Duke Point were already 100 per cent full before 7:00 a.m., with other sailings well on their way to full capacity.

“The Tsawwassen – Duke Point run we are seeing overloads this morning,” BC Ferries’ Deb Marshall told NEWS 1130 Friday. “That is due to the fact that Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay route is still suspended so anybody travelling up Island does have to go via Tsawwassen – Duke Point run right now.”

On Thursday, Henry urged people to stay close to home during the long weekend.

“Rain or shine we can get outside and enjoy some of the best of B.C. right in our own backyards,” she said. “Let’s use this May long weekend as an opportunity to everybody to put our safe social interaction rules into action so that we know what we can do and we start those habits for the coming weeks.”

This means fewer faces, smaller groups, shorter times together and bigger spaces.

Marshall is echoing Henry’s wishes.

“We just want to remind people that the smaller communities that we serve, many of them have put up notices asking non-essential travel not to come visit, the smaller islands, the Sunshine Coast, Haida Gwaii and other areas this weekend,” Marshall says. “So we would ask people to respect the wishes of those smaller communities.”

During the Easter long weekend there were also concerns about people not heeding Henry’s advice, with full sailings that weekend as well.

B.C. is set to begin phase two of the province’s reopening plan next week, but Henry hinted the messaging for the next long weekend will still be the same.

“For many of us, this May long weekend is the unofficial start to summer and today, this summer is going to be somewhat different for all of us,” Henry said.

B.C. has been successful in flattening the COVID-19 curve. On Thursday, Henry announced 15 new cases and three more deaths.