Thousands sign petition to limit travel to Vancouver Island

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Thousands of people have signed an online petition requesting that access to Vancouver Island via BC Ferries be limited to essential services, supplies and residents only, fearing that a wave of long weekend vacationers will spreads COVID-19 in areas where medical resources are limited.

“We always see tourists from other provinces and the United States driving on our roads here. We have to be proactive and protect our residents – this island has a lot of people who are considered high risk and it is in our interest to come together as a community to protect our friends, family and neighbors “reads in part the petition.

“It has to work both ways … residents of Vancouver Island should not travel to the mainland if it is not essential. “

More than 26,000 people signed the online petition on Sunday afternoon.

Provincial health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix have asked British Columbia several times. residents to avoid non-essential travel throughout the week. But before the weekend, the BC Ferries online portal showed that some crossings were almost 90% complete.

This data only reflects the space of the vehicle, not all passengers on board. Total departures have also been significantly reduced and the passenger capacity of each vessel has been reduced by half.

Henry said in his statement on Saturday that reports of flooding on Vancouver Island were “exaggerated” and that a majority of people follow provincial and federal directives to stay at home.

Passengers board a BC Ferries ship from Tsawwassen to the southern Gulf Islands on Friday after provincial officials urged the public to avoid non-essential travel. (Chris Corday / CBC)

“Stop it before the long weekend blows in May”

Al Siebring, the mayor of the municipality of North Cowichan, said that although he did not necessarily agree that measures should be taken to restrict all non-essential travel, the traffic observed this weekend indicated a problem.

“The people who took the ferries this weekend, the majority of them seemed anecdotal to be people who tow boats and RVs and who knows what, and these were recreational trips. saying, stay home, “he said.

Siebring said he has also heard reports of tourists traveling to northern Vancouver Island cleaning up grocery stores and convenience stores already struggling to maintain their stocks.

“Now these other customers come in and wash the milk and eggs and groceries and leave the locals dry and dry,” he said.

“Stop this before the long weekend in May begins… find a way to define what an essential journey is, then find a way to clearly apply this essential journey on BC Ferries so as not to repeat what we have had this weekend. “

BC Ferries says it is not allowed to restrict travel.

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