Government of Canada announces one-year ban for pleasure craft and cruise vessels

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OTTAWA, ON, Feb. 4, 2021  – The Government of Canada continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it is having on the marine and tourism sectors. Keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe and healthy are top priorities for Transport Canada.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced two new Interim Orders, which prohibit pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022. This means:

  • Adventure-seeking pleasure craft are still prohibited from entering Arctic waters.
  • Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are still prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast.
  • Cruise vessels carrying 100 or more people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters.
  • Pleasure craft used by local Arctic residents will not be affected by these measures.

With these prohibitions in place, public health authorities will be able to continue focusing on the most pressing issues, including the vaccine rollout and new COVID-19 variants.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada continues to advise Canadian citizens and permanent residents to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside Canada until further notice.

Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, should continue to follow local public health guidance and protocols, and follow mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks. These could include: reducing the number of passengers, ensuring physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.

Cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our health care systems. The Government of Canada will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as necessary to ensure the health and safety of all Canadians. Should the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders.

“As Canadians continue to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our government continues to work hard to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe. Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems. This is the right and responsible thing to do.” said The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

The temporary measures for pleasure craft and cruise ships, were scheduled to end on February 28, 2021.

Those who do not comply with the pleasure craft prohibition could be subject to penalties: $5,000 per day for individuals and $25,000 per day for groups or corporations.
In Canada’s Arctic waters, these restrictions do not apply to craft used by local communities for essential transportation, subsistence fishing, harvesting and hunting.

Those who do not comply with the passenger vessel prohibition could be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $1 million or to imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, or to both.

There is no national ban for smaller cruise ships certified to carry 100 or fewer people. They must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority protocols for timelines and processes around their operations.