'It's all good news': Island tourism operators excited for end of PCR tests for short trips
Passengers arriving in Victoria this morning on the Coho ferry had to get a PCR test before getting on the boat.
"I paid $175," said Brian Pickering, a resident of Sequim, Wash.
Multiply that total by two for himself and his wife and that cost adds up.
"You win some, you lose some," said Pickering.
Right now, any traveler entering Canada must provide a negative PCR test result that was recorded no more than 72 hours before arriving at the border. That requirement has kept many travellers at home.
"A lot more people want to come over," said Jerome Zuick, a resident of Port Orchard, Wash. "A lot of people just don’t want to take the test."
According to sources within the federal government, Canada will be lifting that PCR requirement on short trips for Canadian residents looking to cross the border for less than 72 hours. An official announcement is expected to happen on Friday.
That possibility is good news for the operator of the Coho ferry.
"For people who want to shop or obviously go to a Seahawks or a Kranken game, it’s all good news," said Ryan Burles, president of Black Ball Ferry Line.
The Coho relaunched its service between Victoria and Port Angeles on Nov. 8. It’s mainly catering to snowbirds heading south for the winter.
Although the federal government hasn’t officially confirmed the change, Destination Greater Victoria is hopeful it is coming.
"What we’re aware of is that Dr. Tam has said publicly that they are reviewing the framework around PCR tests," said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.
What Destination Greater Victoria would like to see is the lifting of that PCR requirement, and also a timeline going forward. A timeline would help operators plan for the next tourist season.
"Us and many other destination organizations and industry are looking to put millions of dollars of recovery marketing into the marketplace ahead of next spring and next summer," said Nursey. "We don’t have a plan."
Until the government makes it official, for now the PCR test is still required and it's left some people like Janine Carey-Bourke in a lurch.
"It just looks like I’m very stranded," said Carey-Bourke, a resident of Revelstoke, B.C.
Last week she travelled to Victoria from Revelstoke to visit her daughter. Now, with the roads washed out in the Interior, she can’t get home and her only option is to drive through the U.S. and cross back into Canada at Osyoss.
She doesn’t have her passport with her but has been told she will be allowed to cross the border with only her birth certificate. Now she needs to open up her wallet and shell out for that PCR test.
"I’ve got a green light on everything except the PCR test," said Carey-Bourke. "I’ve heard through an article that they are waiving it for people needing to get through within 72 hours."
That is the talk but as of now, that PCR test is still in effect and she will have to get one if she wants to get back home into Canada after her trip through the U.S.