Province Limits Travel to Haida Gwaii

Kathy Brookes

The B.C. government is taking steps to restrict non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak on the islands. 

A news release late this afternoon says Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is using extraordinary powers under the province's state of emergency to restrict non-resident travel to the islands, maintain essential goods and services, and support the Haida Nation and the Province's continued COVID-19 pandemic response.

The Haida Nation imposed a ban on non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii months ago and had called for more support for it.

The province says its decision to restrict travel now has been made in a government-to-government collaboration with Council of the Haida Nation, Skidegate and Old Massett councils and local governments, in consultation with the provincial health officer. 

The release says the Province will be sending staff to help communities on the mainland and on Haida Gwaii implement the travel restriction.

There are currently 20 COVID-19 cases associated with the outbreak on Haida Gwaii.

Northern Health says all of them are believed to be related to residents who have travelled off-island, or who had contact with a resident who has travelled off-island.

The province says testing for Haida Gwaii has been prioritized and results are now being received within 36 hours. 

Community contact tracing is ongoing and supports are in place for those who have tested positive, including special accommodations for self-isolation if needed.

Travel to Haida Gwaii will continue to be permitted, subject to the approval of the collective Haida Gwaii communities, for the delivery of essential goods and supplies, medical appointments, urgent or emergency family matters, and for the provision of essential services.

In a Facebook post, Haida Nation President Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop) says "the provincial order restricting travel to Haida Gwaii aligns with our state or emergency restricting travel under Haida Nation jurisdiction." 

And he says the order applies to all non-resident travel and will apply to fishing lodge visitors.

He adds the order is expected to stay in place for two incubation periods which right now will be at least 28 days. 

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