Cruise ships not welcome this summer, B.C. health officials say
Cruise ships will be allowed to stop for refuelling but passengers not permitted to get off ship
B.C. health officials say passengers will not be permitted to disembark if cruise ships arrive at the province's ports later this summer although it's still unclear if the federal government will decide whether to resume the cruise ship season on July 1.
On March 13, Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada announced as a safety measure to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, that the cruise ship season which normally starts at the beginning of April would be delayed until the beginning of July.
There have been questions over whether coastal cities including Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert could see the arrival of international cruise ship lines this summer but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that will not be the case.
Henry said the province has made its position clear about the possible resumption of cruise ship visits.
"We've had those conversations with our counterparts in the federal government. We are as you can imagine not in favour of cruise ships coming into anywhere in British Columbia."
Henry said she has spoken to health officials in Yukon, Alaska and Washington State who feel similarly concerned about cruise ships which have seen some of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus.
Henry explained that federal government rules requiring people to self-isolate for 14 days after international travel will apply to cruise ship passengers.
"So if a cruise ship somehow had somehow planned to come here, then we would not be allowing people to come off the cruise ship for example."
According to Tourism Vancouver, the cruise ship season made $840 million in 2019 with more than 280 ships arriving at the city's port.
The Port of Vancouver is closely following developments and said on its website,"We will continue to be in discussions with our cruise line partners over the next few months, as we actively monitor the Canadian and international response to this extraordinary circumstance."
Henry said she expects the federal government to revisit the issue and come out with more recommendations around cruise lines but says provincial health orders will stand through July 1.
Health Minister Adrian Dix also warned people who may be thinking about taking a cruise to reconsider.
"I think if people are planning that kind of travel and I know there are many people who are dedicated fans of cruise ships, going on cruise ship vacations that really all of the evidence tells you this is not the summer for that," said Dix.
Henry noted there are still Canadians who have been working on cruise ships which remain unable to dock in places around the world.