(Greater Victoria Harbour Authority)

In light of COVID-19 transmission concerns, the federal government has put a halt to cruise ships docking in ports across Canada starting April 2nd until July 1st.

According to federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, the cruise ship season will be deferred entirely in Northern and Arctic ports.

This suspension applies to all cruise ships that carry 500 passengers and crews or more. There is no word yet on how BC Ferries will be affected.

Garneau says strengthened health measures and approaches are in the works for ferries and smaller vessels.

On Thursday, Victoria city council approved a motion to ask the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and Transport Canada to suspend cruise ship visits to the Port of Victoria until the risk of COVID-19 subsides.

See also: B.C. announces seven new cases of COVID-19, advises against non-essential travel outside Canada

It is unclear whether Victoria’s request had any bearing on Transport Canada’s decision.

“While this will have a negative economic impact on our organization and numerous small businesses and operators in Greater Victoria, we ask that Victorians continue to support dialogue, collaboration, and community through these unprecedented times,” said the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority in a statement.

Fears of the virus spreading through cruise ship travel have arisen as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks on various cruise ships, including the Grand Princess which was originally scheduled to land in Victoria.

Multiple passengers from that ship tested positive for COVID-19 including several in B.C., once they returned home to the Fraser Health Region.

Earlier this week, the federal government also increased the risk of cruise ship travel to Level 4, advising all Canadians to avoid going on cruise ships in the near future.

In light of the global coronavirus pandemic, the B.C. Ministry of Health has advised against all non essential travel outside Canada, including to the United States.

Those who do choose to travel against this advice will be asked to self isolate from school or work for 14 days upon their return to Canada.

The B.C. Ministry of Health is now also directing all event organizations in the province to cancel any events that involve gatherings of 250 people or more.

Authorities are expected to provide their daily COVID-19 update for B.C. at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.

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