Most people stayed home this long weekend, officials say
VICTORIA -- British Columbia’s provincial health officer has been pleading with residents to stay home this long weekend to curb the spread of COVID-19 and it appears her message worked on most people.
Despite what photographs shared on social media show, BC Ferries tells CTV News Vancouver Island their passenger numbers are down significantly for this time of year.
Spokesperson Deborah Marshall said the largest ferry sailing the company had on Friday was 408 passengers on the 5 p.m. ferry from Swartz Bay terminal to Tsawwassen terminal.
“Transport Canada has temporarily asked us to reduce our normal maximum passenger capacity by 50 per cent, so, for example, the normal passenger and crew complement would be 2,100 passengers and crew,” she said.
Marshall said BC Ferries is adhering to the new Transport Canada regulations, but the company does not have the ability to prevent people from travelling.
“We’ve definitely seen a huge reduction in the number of travellers this weekend,” she said.
During an announcement on Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said she is still urging people to do their part, and it’s not too late if you’ve made a mistake and travelled away from home. The same day, she announced three new deaths from COVID-19 in B.C., and 35 new cases.
“We still say if you don’t have a reason, don’t go. Stay home,” said Henry. “This is not a time to be going travelling, even if it is to a summer home or a cottage.”
Tofino’s mayor said her message asking people not to come to the Island’s west coast has been successful.
“We are still seeing a really, really small handful of visitors and a few second-home owners that have come out for the weekend,” said Josie Osborne.
Police officers in Tofino helped out over the weekend, setting up a checkpoint at which they were sharing the message that only essential travellers should be continuing.
“They were asking them where they were going and where did they live and what was the purpose of their journey,” said Osborne.
She hopes this weekend makes people think twice about going out on future long weekends if physical distancing rules are still in place.
Henry said a lockdown or stepped-up enforcement isn’t needed.
“We are doing it here in B.C., and it is thanks to everybody doing their part,” she said. “And it’s not too late.”