VICTORIA -- An online petition calling for ferries to be restricted to only Vancouver Island residents is gaining steam.

More than 36,000 people have signed the online petition that was started three weeks ago by Bronwen Blunt.

“Vancouver Island residents are worried about their safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re still seeing tourists from other provinces and the U.S. driving on our roads here,” said Blunt in the petition.

Signatures started rapidly accumulating after the April long weekend, when many people took to social media to express frustration about visitors travelling to Vancouver Island.

“People should be taking this situation very seriously by self-isolating and social distancing, but it’s not happening and we still have tourists and non-residents travelling over to the island,” she said.

Multiple people expressed their frustration saying, “We are not a vacation destination during a pandemic.”

“Most of us have done the hard work of staying home,” said Tami Blazer on the petition.

“It felt like a kick in the teeth yesterday to see the ferries packed with mainlanders coming to Vancouver Island for the weekend.”

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall told CTV News Vancouver Island that traveller numbers were down this weekend compared to usual long weekend averages.

“We’ve definitely seen a huge reduction in the number of travellers this weekend,” she said

Marshall said BC Ferries is adhering to the new Transport Canada regulations – which include filling vessels to only 50 per cent maximum capacity, and keeping passengers inside their vehicles to assist in physical distancing – but the company does not have the ability to prevent people from travelling.

Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed concerns about tourists and visitors coming to Vancouver Island during a conference on Saturday.

“This is not a time to be travelling, even if it is to a summer home or cottage,” she said.

Henry said she spoke to BC Ferries about the number of travellers to Vancouver Island.

“For one, the ferries are only allowed to carry 50 per cent of capacity and we know the schedule has been dramatically reduced,” she said. “I am heartened that most people are doing what we need to do.”

Blunt hopes to garner 50,000 signatures for her petition.