Citing the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its priorities in keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe and healthy, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra has announced two new Interim Orders, which prohibit pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022.
- Adventure-seeking pleasure craft are still prohibited from entering Arctic waters.
- Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are still prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast.
- Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters.
- Pleasure craft used by local Arctic residents will not be affected by these measures.
With these prohibitions in place, public health authorities will be able to continue focusing on the most pressing issues, including the vaccine rollout and new COVID-19 variants. To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada continues to advise Canadian citizens and permanent residents to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside Canada until further notice.
Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, should continue to follow local public health guidance and protocols, and follow mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks. These could include: reducing the number of passengers, ensuring physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.
Announcing the ban, Alghabra said, “As Canadians continue to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe. Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems. This is the right and responsible thing to do.”
The temporary measures for pleasure craft and cruise ships, were scheduled to end on February 28, 2021. Those who do not comply with the passenger vessel prohibition could be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $1 million or to imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, or to both.
There is no national ban for smaller cruise ships certified to carry 100 or fewer people. They must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority protocols for timelines and processes around their operations.