VICTORIA -- BC Ferries says it's excited to reopen its vessels to recreational travellers as B.C. transitions into Step 2 of its recovery plan.

Since late April, BC Ferries has been monitoring for non-essential travellers along routes that cross health authority boundaries as per provincial health orders.

But now travel within the province has been OK'd by health officials beginning June 15, as part of Step 2 of B.C.'s recovery plan.

"The end of travel restrictions marks a key milestone in tackling COVID-19 and we are thrilled it means we can welcome everyone back on board," said Mark Collins, BC Ferries president and CEO in a release Monday.

"Our teams are ready to welcome back recreational travellers on all of our routes."

Starting Tuesday, BC Ferries customers will no longer be asked if they are travelling for essential reasons on the following routes:

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

BC Ferries says it will also be increasing the number of sailings it offers during the summer, when demand is expected to be higher.

While more sailings are being added, maximum capacity aboard BC Ferries vessels is still reduced, as required by Transport Canada.

BC Ferries adds that masks are now considered optional at outdoor sections of ferry terminals. Masks are still required in indoor areas of ferry terminals, as well as onboard vessels.

Health officials announced that Step 2 of B.C.'s recovery plan would begin on Tuesday at a live briefing Monday morning. In addition to opening up travel within the province, Step 2 includes restarting organized indoor social gatherings, such as events at dining halls or movie theatres, and allows for outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people.

Indoor worship services can also restart in a limited capacity, and liquor can be served at bars and restaurants until midnight, up from the current 10 p.m. limit.

Further details on Step 2 of the province's reopening plan can be found here