VANCOUVER -- It's a long weekend, which means ferry terminals around British Columbia are busy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, "busy" is a relative term.

After consulting with Transport Canada, BC Ferries increased its capacity limit from 50 per cent of normal to about 70 per cent last month. That's a lot more space than there was during the height of coronavirus-related restrictions, but it's still not full capacity.

In that context, the two-sailing wait seen on the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay route Saturday afternoon - and one-sailing waits seen on other routes from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island - represent both a very busy weekend and a decline from previous years.

A spokesperson for BC Ferries said Saturday that the company was expecting a lot of traffic over the course of the B.C. Day long weekend, with most of it departing the Lower Mainland on Friday and Saturday and departing Vancouver Island Sunday and Monday.

The capacity limit also means that on the busiest sailings, some foot passengers may also have a wait.

"We are advising customers, particularly for the Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay route on Sunday evening and on Monday, we do expect that it could reach passenger capacity limits," said Tessa Humphries, communications manager for BC Ferries. "If possible, we are just recommending that passengers consider travelling an alternate route."

BC Ferries is also reminding long weekend travellers that they are required to have face masks with them for use when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Those who don't have a mask may be denied boarding.