Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia will miss out on dozens of cruises due to COVID-19

All cruise ships arriving in Canada with more than 500 people will be cancelled until July 1.

It would mean a loss of around 107,000 tourists if ships were at capacity

A cruise ship in Sydney harbour in an undated photo. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Nova Scotia will miss out on around 107,000 potential tourists from cruise ships because of COVID-19 restrictions.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced cruise-ship season would be suspended until July. It means ships carrying more than 500 people cannot stop in Canada until July 1.

The Halifax Port Authority said the restriction affects around 40 vessels and an estimated 75,000 cruise guests.

"We've been following direction from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Transport Canada throughout this situation and today is no different as well," Lane Farguson, a spokesperson for the port authority told CBC News.

"This is done with the well-being and safety of all Canadians in mind and certainly we support that direction."

In Sydney, it represents 22 cruise ships and more than 32,000 passengers if the ships were full.

In an email, the Port of Sydney announced it supported the federal government's move, but also acknowledged the economic toll.

"This decision increases community safety but does have an economic impact for the many individuals and businesses who rely on tourism," Marlene Usher, CEO of the Port of Sydney, wrote in the email.

Paul Carrigan, general manager for the Port of Sydney, said it's unclear whether staff layoffs will be necessary because of the delay in ship calls.

"We have to look at those numbers and see what comes out of it, but that's something that we will be dealing with Monday morning," he said.

Carrigan said port officials have talked with dock workers and the rest of the staff and they are aware of the cruise ship cancellations.

'Better now than later'

Michelle Wilson, executive director of the Sydney Downtown Development Association, said she wasn't surprised by the news.

"The thought from one merchant I spoke to was more, 'Better now than later,'" Wilson said.

For both Sydney and Halifax, the busiest time of year for cruise ships is September and October.

Wilson said some businesses may have to make adjustments in their marketing until the ships come.

"Nobody is panicking right yet, so hopefully it stays that way and as this passes things will get back to normal."

Farguson said the Halifax Port Authority will be ready to receive ships when restrictions are lifted. He said about 70 per cent of cruise visits happen in the back half of the season.

"We'll do everything we can to make sure we're ready for that when it happens," Farguson said.

"And that we can work with our tourism providers here on the ground to make sure that those folks are getting the best experience that they can have when they visit the Port of Halifax and Nova Scotia."

Ferries included

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said on Friday the federal government would re-examine the situation at the end of June.

Garneau said the restrictions also apply to ferries carrying more than 500 people.

"We will be putting in place a series of additional health measures to ensure those that will be on smaller ships and these ferries that precautions that need to be taken for their health will be taken," Garneau said.

Marine Atlantic has crossings between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

Spokesperson Darrell Mercer said passengers will be asked if they had recently travelled to an affected country, if they've been in contact with an infected person or if they're showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Bay Ferries, which operates the service between Nova Scotia and Maine, declined to answer questions about measures it will take once the the crossings begin at the end of June.

Symptoms

Mercer said if they say yes to any of those questions, they will be directed to an area of the ferry terminal for additional screening.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to the seasonal flu and common cold and include a fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

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About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Brett Ruskin, Holly Conners, Tom Ayers and Jessica Doria-Brown