VICTORIA -- The village of Alert Bay, an island community located near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, has declared a local state of emergency and issued a nightly curfew amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of emergency, which affects the Village of Alert Bay and the Regional District of Mount Waddington on Cormorant Island, restricts all travel to and from the island except for “essential verified travel” to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The declaration also provides municipal employees with the authority to “do all acts and implement all procedures that are considered necessary to prevent or alleviate the effects of the emergency.”

The state of emergency went into effect April 18 and will remain until April 24 at midnight.

Alert Bay has also imposed a curfew to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew is in effect between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily. The municipality says that an alarm will sound at 9 p.m. to give residents time to return home.

“It is very important that Cormorant Island residents do not contribute to the spread of this virus, or be exposed to the virus, off-island,” said the municipality in an announcement Saturday.

“We are working with Public Health officials and relevant provincial agencies on measures to reinforce the importance of only leaving or coming to this island for essential reasons.”

Last week, Alert Bay Mayor Dennis Buchanan said that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

In a video, Buchanan said that he believed he contracted the illness from someone who was visiting the island, despite the community’s pleas to avoid travelling at this time.

“Wake up, people. It is serious stuff,” he said. “So please, please take precautions: wash your hands, do not touch your face. Stay home and do not travel.” 

Island Health says that it is working closely with local leaders in the area and will help transfer anyone that requires hospitalization off of Cormorant Island.

"In support of the health and wellness of the residents of Cormorant Island, Island Health is actively testing close contacts of the confirmed cases and other members of the community to identify potential cases as quickly as possible," said the organization in a statement.

"We are working directly with community leaders from the Village of Alert Bay and the ‘Namgis First Nation, local health care providers and the First Nations Health Authority to support the response to this cluster of cases."

"Anyone requiring hospitalization related to COVID-19 symptoms will be transferred off of Cormorant Island and there are plans in place to accommodate those transfers, if and when they are needed."