Pelee Island Ferry restrictions begin as tourists asked to stay on land

Stricter regulations are beginning May 1 for Pelee Island Transportation and tourists are asked to avoid travelling to the island.

Island has no cases of COVID-19 so far

The Pelee Islander, one of the island's ferries, sits at the dock. The ferry service is limited to essential travel only. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Stricter regulations are beginning May 1 for Pelee Island Transportation and tourists are asked to avoid travelling to the island. 

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau issued an order to restrict ferry travel to protect those onboard from COVID-19, and the latest precautions are effective May 1, according to a release from the provincial ferry operator that runs the Pelee Island service. 

Any ferry carrying more than 12 passengers must adhere to the rules, and operations related to tourism or recreation are prohibited until June 30. All non-essential travel is being discouraged right now, for both residents and visitors.

So few people are making the trip back and forth to Pelee Island that the ferry was cancelled on Sunday, for lack of ridership.

Pelee Island Mayor Ray Durocher said there are precautions in place for the ferry for a reason. 

"Whether you're leaving the island or coming to the island it should only be for essential travel," he said. "The [Ministry of Transportation] has taken a lot of precautions."

Pelee Island Transportation had already restricted the amount of passengers allowed to travel on each ferry beginning April 1. 

Now, all passengers must call to make reservations, walk-on passengers must wear a mask to protect crew, and drive-on passengers must remain in their cars. 

So far, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 for anyone on the island. 

"There are a lot of changes, a lot of closures, cancellations of festivals, half-marathon, the wineries aren't open," said Durocher. "I really have to thank the community for protecting the island from COVID-19."

The mayor said the island's co-op has done a lot to provide essential foods and supplies to those on the island so that that travel to the mainland can remain limited. 

All customers with reservations for the period May 1 through June 30 will be contacted by Pelee Island Transportation Reservation Agents for essential travel screening and re-scheduling.


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