OTTAWA — On March 13, Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced the implementation of new measures pertaining to cruise ships in Canadian waters.
As a response to COVID-19, the Government of Canada will defer the start of the cruise-ship season in Canada from April 2, 2020, to July 1, 2020, at the earliest. This will apply to cruise ships capable of carrying more than 500 passengers and crew members.
Additionally, given the limited public-health capacity in Canada’s Northern communities, the cruise-ship season for vessels with Canadian Arctic stops will be deferred for the entire season this year. This would apply to cruise ships of all sizes.
“The safety and security of Canadians is a top priority. There’s no immediate solution to allow cruise ships to operate in Canada while adequately containing the public-health risk associated with COVID-19, other than delaying the start of the cruise-ship season,” says Garneau. “We don’t take these decisions lightly and will continue to reassess as the situation evolves.”
While this measure does not apply to ferries or smaller vessels at this time, an approach is being developed to ensure health measures are strengthened in all passenger vessels across Canada.
Transport Canada has also announced plans to restrict the number of airports allowing overseas international arrivals. Final details regarding which airports will be accepting international flights have not been formally released at this time. However, CTV News reports some international flights will be rerouted to Montreal, Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to release official details at a press conference this afternoon.
Minister Garneau has also indicated that Canada is not considering a travel ban similar to that imposed by the U.S. On March 13, the U.S. implemented a 30-day travel ban on citizens of 26 European countries. The ban has since been extended to include the U.K and Republic of Ireland.
The Government of Canada has indicated it will continue to engage with the tourism sector and regional partners to understand the effects of COVID-19 on local businesses and their employees.