coast guard
Canadian Coast Guard Base in James Bay. (@vicpdcanada/Twitter)

The Canadian Coast Guard has joined public health officials in British Columbia in calling for restraint over the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend.

In a statement on Thursday, federal agency urged recreational boaters in B.C. to avoid unnecessary travel over the May long weekend, and asked those who choose to go out on the water this season to practice common sense, good judgement, and continue to observe public heath guidelines.

“The Canadian Armed Forces, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Coast Guard, Indigenous Services Canada, Parks Canada Agency, RCMP, and other federal partners, Destination BC, Emergency Management BC, and the United States Coast Guard are working together this spring to ensure all mariners on the water stay safe and are observing COVID-19 protocols laid out by the BC Provincial Health Officer and Government of Canada,” reads the statement.

In particular, recreational boaters are advised against visiting small communities in B.C., as many of them, including First Nations communities have closed themselves off to visitors to protect themselves against the virus.

This message has been relayed by both B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry this past week.

Boaters who venture out onto the waters are therefore asked to carry their own supplies of fuel, food, safety equipment, and other items.

As with every B.C. resident in general, boaters who have been feeling ill or were in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 are asked to stay home, away from the ocean.

“In a marine emergency, boaters should let emergency responders know if they have any flu-like symptoms when they call for assistance,” reads the statement.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

The Coast Guard announcement also included a reminder that the U.S. – Canada border remains closed until May 21 which means boaters crossing the border for non-essential purposes like recreation and tourism will be turned back.

Essential travellers who do enter Canada from the U.S. by boat will be required to self isolate for 14 days, just like travellers who enter by air and land.

During his daily briefing on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alluded to talks between himself and his U.S. counterpart about extending the border closure past May 21.

Public health officials in B.C. have stated that they are opposed to the U.S.-Canada border reopening to non-essential travel any time in the near future.

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