COVID-19: Canada extends cruise ship ban until 2022

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      There’s good news for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in Canada—but bad news for the tourism industry and businesses along the B.C. coast and in areas of Vancouver like Gastown that rely upon cruise ship tourists. 

      Cruise ships have been banned from entering Canadian waters for another year.

      Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced today (February 4) that he has issued two interim orders to extend the prohibition of pleasure craft from entering Canadian Arctic waters and cruises vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022.

      Current temporary measures were slated to expire this year on February 28.

      During the onset of the pandemic, then–Transport Minister Marc Garneau had announced on March 13, 2020, that he was placing restrictions on cruise ships and initially delayed the start of the annual cruise ship season.

      All pleasure craft remain banned from entering Arctic waters and passenger vessels with more than 12 people are not allowed to enter Arctic coastal waters, which includes Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador coast.

      The exception is local Arctic residents, who can use water vessels for essential transportation, subsistence fishing, harvesting, and hunting.

      In addition, cruise ships with over 100 people are not allowed to operate in Canadian waters during this time period.

      Smaller cruise ships with up to 100 people must follow local health authority protocols.

      The federal government is advising all Canadians to continue to avoid travel on cruise ships until further notice.

      Essential passenger vessels, including ferries and water taxis, need to follow local public health guidelines and measures.

      As the government continues to monitor the situation, Alghabra will only rescind the orders if the pandemic improves enough to allow these activities to resume.

      Anyone who doesn’t comply with the pleasure craft prohibition can be subject to fines of $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for groups or companies. Meanwhile, anyone who violates the passenger vessel prohibition could face a summary conviction of a fine of up to $1 million or imprisonment up to 18 month, or both.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.