COVID-19: American vessel intercepted near Ucluelet in violation of Quarantine Act

Police were seen investigating the vessel at Ucluelet’s 52 Steps Dock.

An American vessel was intercepted near Ucluelet and ordered to return to the U.S.A. under the Quarantine Act on Aug. 31.

Police were seen investigating the vessel at Ucluelet’s 52 Steps Dock.

The vessel’s operators were fined $2,000 for failing to report to the Canada Border Services Agency as well as failing to comply with the Quarantine Act that’s in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ucluelet’s Harbour Master Kevin Cortes told the Westerly News that this was the first instance of an American vessel being intercepted near the community since the start of the pandemic’s border closure.

“They’re not to come up here, the whole idea is to keep COVID-19 at bay…If you’re a recreational vessel, you’re not supposed to be here because it’s essential only. The only thing that would fall underneath that would be commercial vessels, which we’ve not had any of on the dock. That’s the only potential exemption, but even that would have to report to the CBSA,” Cortes said.

“Early on, I had one Canadian ex-pat that came into the area, but followed all the CBSA rules, quarantined themselves on their boat and did all the right things. That’s the only one that I’ve had to deal with until this one showed up.”

Under the Quarantine Act, all travellers entering Canada must undergo screening by a border official and complete a 14-day quarantine period.

READ MORE: U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson Mark Stuart told the Westerly News via email that the Privacy Act restricts the agency from disclosing any additional information about the vessel or its occupants, but added that crossing the border for non-essential reasons is currently prohibited.

“Boaters are still permitted to navigate across international waters if needed, but are not allowed to enter Canadian territorial or boundary waters for discretionary, leisure—non-essential—reasons, including entry for touring, sightseeing and pleasure fishing,” he wrote.

“Boaters are still permitted to navigate across Canadian waters for the purpose of transit when proceeding directly from one place outside Canada to another place outside Canada if needed, but are not allowed to dock or anchor in Canada for discretionary, non-essential reasons. The transit must be direct, continuous and uninterrupted and by the most reasonable route. Any diversion for sightseeing, or a loop movement, would be prohibited and subject to possible enforcement action.”

He added that the reporting requirements have not changed and that anyone entering Canadian waters must report to the CBSA, regardless of their country of origin.

Boaters who enter Canada without reporting to the CBSA, even just to refuel, face penalties that include fines, vessel seizure and criminal charges, according to Stuart who added that the minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is $1,000.

“Furthermore, non-compliance by foreign nationals may affect their immigration admissibility and ability to re-enter Canada in the future,” he wrote.

“In addition, failure to comply with the current border entry restrictions is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines. Further, a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening this act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1 million or imprisonment of up to three years or both.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

READ MORE: Canada-U.S. couple says 14-day quarantine makes border rules for families ‘illogical’

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