A view from the water shows the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre. (Haida Gwaii Observer/File photo)

Non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii shut down amid COVID outbreak

Province will enforce travel restrictions from islands and mainland

The province has restricted non-residents from travelling to Haida Gwaii to help contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 20 islanders to date.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth made the announcement today (July 30) under the state of provincial emergency, saying the province will maintain essential goods and services to the archipelago.

“The Province, Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority are working closely with the Haida Nation and local governments on Haida Gwaii to respond to this COVID-19 outbreak,” Farnworth said. “Our foremost concern is the health and safety of all residents of Haida Gwaii, and we’re working together to limit further spread of COVID-19.”

Provincial staff will be deployed to communities on the mainland and Haida Gwaii to enforce the travel restriction.

It’s believed the 20 cases are linked to residents who travelled off island.

READ MORE: COVID-19: No new cases on Haida Gwaii in past 24 hours

The province has prioritized testing for Haida Gwaii.

The province said its decision to restrict non-resident travel was made in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation, the band councils and all local governments.

Travel to and from the islands will be subject to the approval of the communities for limited reasons, including delivery of essential goods and supplies, medical appointments, urgent or emergency family matters, and for the provision of essential services as defined by the unified command structure comprised of the Council of the Haida Nation, village councils and local governments.

As of July 29, there were 13 cases that were still active and seven had recovered.

-with files from Karissa Gall