Prince Rupert RCMP was called to an incident involving COVID-19 concerns onboard a ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate on Jan. 31. Seen here is a BC Ferry docked at the Prince Rupert terminal on Feb. 2. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert RCMP was called to an incident involving COVID-19 concerns onboard a ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate on Jan. 31. Seen here is a BC Ferry docked at the Prince Rupert terminal on Feb. 2. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

RCMP dispatched to ferry over COVID-19 concerns

BC Ferries sailing from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii delayed due to pandemic health concerns

More than 80 passengers on a BC Ferries sailing from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii were disrupted by COVID-19 concerns being voiced to the transportation company and the Prince Rupert RCMP on Jan. 31.

The sailing of the ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate was delayed by an hour and a half while the police attended the ferry prior to the vessel leaving the dock to investigate passenger concerns about a van load of travellers returning from the USA and not meeting COVID-19 wellness conditions.

“We did respond to a call of people possibly not following proper quarantine procedures after travelling out of the country,” Cpl. Devon Gerrits, watch commander of the Prince Rupert RCMP, said.

Deborah Marshall executive director of public affairs, marketing, and customer experience confirmed with The Northern View in an email on Feb. 2, that a group of 11 passengers from the same family was isolated on board during the sailing.

“Other passengers called the RCMP who came and spoke to the group and were permitted to continue on their journey,” she said.

“We appreciate that non-essential travel to Haida Nation is not permitted at this time. Our understanding is that these passengers are residents of Haida Gwaii,” Marshall said.

“All precautions were taken. We opened up the Aurora Lounge for their exclusive use. They were advised not to leave the area for the duration of the trip.”

The safety and security of passengers and crew is their number one priority she said, and the group was loaded ahead of all other traffic and isolated onboard as per BC Ferries COVID procedures.

“Our crew assisted the family with contacting the EOC on Haida Gwaii to help them fill out the permit application online onboard the vessel,” the BC Ferries representative said.

Marshall said the group offloaded after all other 79 passengers disembarked. Crew sanitized the Aurora Lounge and other touch-points on the ship after the group disembarked. The lounge remained closed for three days, she said.

“I can assure you that BC Ferries takes COVID matters very seriously,” Marshall said.

Gerrits said, in a situation such as this the RCMP’s primary role would to be ensure that travellers who entered into Canada are abiding by the respective rules and regulations that are set in place.

“As a result of the investigation, it was determined that the people had checked in the CBSA upon re-entry into Canada and were provided with instructions which allowed them to travel to their residence to start their quarantine process,” Gerrits said.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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