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BC Ferries adds extra sailings, discourages non-essential travel due to COVID-19

Last Updated Dec 11, 2020 at 6:31 pm PDT

FILE - Cars wait in line at the BC Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen. (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

BC Ferries is adding more sailings on some routes between through the first week of January

A spokesperson says the added sailings are meant to accommodate an increase in commercial, essential traffic

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — At a time when everyone’s being asked to stay home for the holidays to help slow the spread of COVID-19, a major transit provider in British Columbia is expanding some service.

BC Ferries is adding more sailings on some routes through the first week of January.

The corporation’s Communications Manager Astrid Chang says that still falls in line with public health directives asking would-be vacationers to stay home.

“We continue to transport commercial traffic and so, we are certainly keeping that going and we will deliver those goods and holiday packages in a timely fashion, but everyone is being asked to do their part to bend the curve back down and that includes avoiding non-essential travel this holiday season.”

Chang says anyone booking essential trips before Jan. 8 should arrive at least one hour early and follow the mandatory mask policy.

“Some people need to travel for essential reasons over the holidays. We are certainly seeing a lot of commercial traffic moving at this time of year delivering those essential goods and services to coastal communities and holiday packages, as well. So, we have added a handful of extra sailings just to meet that demand this holiday period,” she says.

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She has advice for anyone needing to cancel travel plans booked before Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued her directive discouraging non-essential trips.

“Contact our customer care teams if they need to change or cancel their holiday travel bookings because of these travel restrictions.”

BC Ferries is advising a number of previously scheduled extra sailings have already been cancelled, so Chang tells NEWS 1130 anyone still needing to travel should book in advance.

“That will help guarantee their sailing of choice. We have all the physical distancing signage and barriers in place, so if people do have to travel, they can be spread out on our decks and passenger areas. People who do have to travel, we are advising they check out our website bcferries.com for the latest sailing and current condition information.”

Pre-pandemic, the government-subsidized transit service reported it was transporting “more than 60,000 customers and 23,000 vehicles throughout coastal BC every day.”

Amid surging COVID-19 numbers across Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier John Horgan, and Dr. Bonnie Henry have been discouraging all, but essential travel.