VICTORIA -- On Friday, B.C. announced its plans to restrict travel within the province in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Shortly after, BC Ferries outlined its role as a transportation provider among the new health restrictions. From April 23 to May 25, BC Ferries will prohibit travellers from riding ferries that cross health authority boundaries for non-essential reasons.

The company says staff will ask all customers if their travel is essential before purchasing a ticket.

Ferry routes that do not cross health authority regions will not be monitored as strictly, though all non-essential travel is discouraged right now, says BC Ferries.

Under the new health order, some health authorities are being grouped together into one region for the purposes of travel restrictions.

The Northern and Interior health authorities are considered one combined region, while the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities are considered one region.

The Vancouver Island region remains unchanged though travel to and from a portion of B.C.'s Central Coast that falls within Island Health will be restricted, according to health officials.

Under the new travel restrictions, the BC Ferries routes that staff will be monitoring for non-essential travel are:

  • Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay
  • Tsawwassen – Duke Point
  • Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands
  • Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay
  • Comox – Powell River
  • Port Hardy – Prince Rupert

"BC Ferries supports doing everything we can to discourage non-essential travel, and this order gives us the legal authority we need to deny travel for non-essential reasons," said Mark Collins, president and CEO of BC Ferries, in a release Friday.

"Our employees continue to work hard providing service transporting people, goods and medical supplies to coastal BC communities for essential reasons, and I’m proud of the work they are doing," he said.

BC Ferries adds that it will not be adding extra sailings during the May long weekend, as it normally does, to help discourage travel.

To help with enforcement of the travel restrictions, BC Ferries says that other authorities may be called in for support.

"It is vitally important for people to stay close to home over these next five weeks so we can drive down the spread of COVID and look forward to a more familiar summer," said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure in a statement Friday.

"The vast majority of people are putting the health and safety of others first, and the added measures we’re now taking are meant to ensure others don’t travel unless it is essential," he said.

A list outlining what is considered essential travel in B.C. can be found here.