UPDATED: 2:30m March 25
A COVID-19 crew exposure has shut down the Northern Expedition route to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, announced BC Ferries on March 24 resulting in cancelled sailings.
“BC Ferries recently experienced an employee COVID-19 exposure on board the Northern Expedition,” Deborah Marshall executive director public affairs for BC Ferries stated in an email to The Northern View.
“We are working with the local Public Health Authority on contact tracing to determine the risk as a result of the exposure,” she said.
In a media update in the afternoon of March 25, Marshall said the local Public Health Authority has completed contact tracing and advised there is no risk to the public.
Vaccinations are already underway by the province for workers on northern vessels and BC Ferries is working with the health authorities on available avenues to have all company employees immunized.
“These events speak to the importance of our ferry workers receiving vaccinations, especially on liveaboard ships,” Marshall stated. “We are continuing to work with the Province to explore vaccination options for all BC Ferries’ employees.”
“For the safety of our crew and the protection of northern communities like Haida Gwaii, we have cancelled the three upcoming sailings on March 25 and 26,” the executive director stated.
As The Northern Expedition is a ‘live aboard’ ship, under public health rules it is considered ‘congregate housing’ by health authorities, hence the ship has been returned to the fleet maintenance unit in Richmond for refit and cleaning.
BC Ferries adheres to comprehensive COVID-19 protocols, including increased cleaning at terminals and onboard our ships, mandatory face coverings, and physical distancing to ensure customers travelling for essential reasons can continue to do so safely.
“We are concerned about the health and safety of our crew, our customers and the public,” Marshall said. “… Our alternate Northern Class ship, the Northern Adventure, recently completed its annual refit and will commence service from Port Hardy on March 27.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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