From April 6, the Minister informed that all commercial marine vessels with a capacity of more than 12 passengers have been banned from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation. These measures will remain in place until at least June 30.

Moreover, the measures prohibit any Canadian cruise ship from mooring, navigating, or transiting in Canadian Arctic waters (including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast). The measures will remain in place until October 31, 2020.

Another newly implemented measure, includes that ferries and passenger vessels have to reduce by 50% the maximum number of passengers that may be carried on board, meaning the implementations of half-load voyages, to support the two-meter physical distancing rule or implement alternative practices to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among passengers on board their vessels, such as keeping people in their vehicles, when feasible or enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.

The above mentioned measures are applied to all of Canada’s coastal and inland waters, including the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, and Canada’s Arctic waters.

It is, therefore, highlighted that failure to abide by these new measures could lead to penalties of up to $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a vessel or corporation, as well as criminal sanctions, which include up to $1 million in fines and/or up to 18 months' imprisonment.

However, from the above measures there are some exceptions. Specifically, the new measures do not apply to:

  • essential passenger vessels such as ferries, water taxis, and medical-use vessels;
  • cargo vessels, barges, work boats, fishing vessels and other commercial vessels who operate to support resupply operations and the movement of goods through Canada’s supply chain;
  • Canadian commercial passenger vessels, without passengers, moving for repairs or repositioning;
  • Canadian commercial passenger vessels that are not in service; and
  • pleasure craft (e.g. non-commercial vessels).

Concluding, Canada recently announced that it is ready to mobilize two Navy ships as part of the country's COVID-19 response. What is more, up to 24,000 defense force personnel will be readied as part of Canada's pandemic response.