The Government of Canada today announced that it is banning cruise ships for one year while also advising Canadian citizens and residents to avoid all cruise ship travel. The government said the surprising move was in response to the continued risk cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose to the health care system.
“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,” said Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra.
Today, I announced a 1-year ban on pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters, these prohibitions will protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems.
— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) February 4, 2021
Canada announced two orders today which block cruise ships from operating in Canadian waters and pleasure crafts and passenger ships from Canadian Arctic waters until February 28, 2022. Cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers are prohibited from Canadian waters, which in effect blocks both the 2021 Alaska cruise season as well as itineraries on the East Coast known as New England/Canada. Canada had instituted its first ban on large cruise ships in mid-March 2020 later extending it until its current expiration which had been set for February 28, 2021.
“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,” the announcement said. “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.”
In addition to the cruise ship ban, Canada is also extending bans on pleasure craft and passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast. Pleasure crafts used by local Arctic residents are exempt from these measures.
Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, are not included in the ban, nor are small cruise ships that carry 100 or fewer people. They are advised to continue to follow local public health guidance and protocols and follow mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks.
In making the announcement, the Government of Canada said it will continue to evaluate the situation. If the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently improves to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport can rescind today’s orders.
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