Ottawa: Canada said Thursday it was extending a ban on cruise ships entering its waters through February 2022 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The ban applies to ships carrying more than 100 people, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
If pandemic conditions “sufficiently improve” during the period, he added, the government could move to rescind the order.
The original ban was put in place last April as the pandemic took hold in North America, and was extended several times.
The measure has dealt a severe blow to Canadian port cities such as Vancouver, Quebec and Montreal, where the cruise industry is a vital moneymaker.
In 2019, Canada was visited by cruise ships from a dozen countries with some two million tourists on board, according to the ministry.
Croisieres du Saint-Laurent, an association representing nine ports of call along the busy seaway, said the cancellation of cruises for a second year will have “serious impacts on the tourism industry.”
But it said it remains optimistic for 2022, saying advance bookings have been strong.
Adventure-seeking sailboats and other pleasure craft as well as passenger ships carrying more than 12 people are also still banned from Canadian Arctic waters, the ministry said.
Local residents of Canada’s Arctic territories using boats for transport or fishing, however, are exempted.
The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut have so far managed to keep their total number of Covid-19 cases to just 400, but they lack sufficient health resources to cope in the event of a major outbreak.
As such, travel to the region has been severely curtailed.
Canada in total has recorded nearly 800,000 Covid-19 cases and 20,500 deaths.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)