Major BC Ferries routes had 32,921 passengers over the Victoria Day long weekend. (BC Ferries/Twitter)

Long weekend passengers down 80 per cent on main BC Ferries routes

Health minister says those staying home are helping province move into phase two

British Columbians who stayed home over the long weekend have helped put the province in a good place for phase two of the COVID-19 response, according to health officials.

The number of passengers who took BC Ferries over this year’s Victoria Day long weekend was down roughly 80 per cent from 2018. Those numbers were announced Monday by B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix during a COVID-19 update following the typically busy long weekend.

“I think this indicates that, while obviously there is travel going on in the province, people have been mindful of the guidance they’ve received,” he said. “Through our efforts this weekend to stop the spread, we’re giving our social, surgical and economical renewal the strongest chance for a great start.”

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island BC Ferries routes down 92% compared to last Easter, after capacity reduced

In 2018, the May long weekend saw 163,578 passengers board BC Ferries’ main routes between Thursday and Sunday. In contrast, there were 32,921 ferry passengers during the same period in 2020.

Ferries travelling through the Southern Gulf Islands saw 4,065 passengers – a marked decline from 2018 when the island ferries transported 15,424 people.

BC Ferries is still encouraging people to refrain from travel unless it is essential and has reduced its capacity by 50 per cent under Transport Canada regulations to support physical distancing and help curb the spread of the virus. Passengers are also encouraged to remain in their cars during their trip.

“I would say just in general, on the long weekend, it’s just observation, that we mostly stayed close, we mostly stayed apart and stayed safe,” Dix said. “We kept our highways and ferries clear for the most part, for those doing essential travel.”

Dix spoke on the precipice of phase two of a provincial restart plan that saw businesses, medical services, parks, recreation facilities and work sites reopen across B.C. with enhanced safety protocols.

READ ALSO: Victoria businesses open as province enters phase two of COVID-19 response

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