Fully vaccinated tourists welcomed back to Haida Gwaii after year of pandemic visitor ban

·2 min read

Haida Gwaii is set to welcome visitors from B.C. and the rest of Canada starting on July 1, as most residents and school children above the age of 12 on the archipelago are expected to be fully vaccinated by then.

Gaagwiis, president of the Haida Nation, had announced earlier in June that Haida Gwaii was rescinding its state of emergency that dated to last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the state of emergency, all non-residents were prohibited from leisure travel to Haida Gwaii.

“It’s exciting news that we’re able to look forward that by the end of June school children 12 and up along with the island residents will be fully vaccinated and for July we’ll be able to welcome visitors back to Haida Gwaii,” he said.

As of June 29, Northern Health said that Haida Gwaii’s vaccination drive was going “very well.” According to the health authority’s estimates, the vaccination rate in Haida Gwaii’s north island is at 78 percent and the south is at 87 per cent for the first dose, and 64 per cent and 71 per cent respectively for second dose. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control lists the vaccination coverage rate of Haida Gwaii residents over 12 years who have received at least one dose of vaccine at 82 per cent.

“It’s been a long year for the people of Haida Gwaii and I’m forever grateful for everybody’s respect of one another and diligence as we’ve all gone through this pandemic together,” Gaagwiis said in a video posted on the Nation’s website.

“After many discussions with our leadership in our communities, Skidegate and Old Massett, our emergency operation centres, island leaders, our community health leads and local doctors, it’s become quite clear that we’re in a place now where we’re ready to turn the corner and begin to really look forward at the summer,” he said.

Gwaii Haanas National Park which opened to Haida locals on June 7 will also be open for off-island visitors from July 1.

The Haida Nation has requested visitors to be fully vaccinated before visiting the island.

The Nation has set up a “visitor pledge” and all visitors who come to Haida Gwaii will be asked to sign-up to the Haida Gwaii Visitor Pledge, which asks visitors to follow all public health guidance and COVID-19 safety protocols, along with respectful ways to enjoy Haida Gwaii, Gaagwiis said. As of June 29, there were 198 signature pledges on the site.

Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Terrace Standard

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