PORT ANGELES – The Coho ferry will resume round-trip service on November 8 to Victoria, Black Ball Ferry Line president Ryan Burles said on Tuesday.
“This is wonderful news,” he said. “It’s good.”
The service was suspended on March 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burles said that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that cost between $ 100 and $ 200 will be required of visitors – even those who have been vaccinated – traveling to Canada.
This is a financial hurdle that may limit short vacation stays to destinations such as Butchart Gardens and the Victoria shopping district, Burles noted.
“It’s going to be a big burden, not just the cost, but the logistics,” he said.
“Same day travel is likely to be about zero and night travel will be cut off.”
The PCR test requirement also applies to Canadians returning to their country.
Burles said he expects the resumption of service to meet pent-up demand from Canadian “snowbird” travelers heading to warmer climates such as Arizona, and that, upon their return, the PCR testing may no longer be required.
Black Ball will step up its service by spending a $ 3.1 million coronavirus economic aid grant for transportation services that is to be used within one year of receiving it.
About 20 Black Ball employees are working, and 55 more will be added for scheduled crossings from a workforce of 120 during peak season.
“We have this money, so let’s go,” Burles said.
The Coho will depart Port Angeles daily at 8:20 a.m. and 2 p.m. and depart Victoria at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The 61-year-old ship will be in dry dock at the jetty it leases at the Port of Port Angeles from Jan.4-17 for maintenance, although it has remained seaworthy for the past 19 months, its horn is being tested attractively every few weeks. .
There’s only one Coho, Burles warned.
“We tend to always err on the side of caution and try to be as consumed as possible with this ship. This ship is definitely top notch for her age, and we just want her to stay that way. ”
The US land border has been closed to non-essential travelers since early 2020. The US government announced last week that Canadian travelers can begin visiting the United States on November 8.
Canadian travelers must be fully vaccinated but do not need to produce a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States
Canada opened its borders in August to fully vaccinated Americans who still need to provide PCR proof that they are free from COVID-19.
“Travel tests are chargeable and often cost around $ 150,” said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties Tuesday.
The test costs $ 175 at Jim’s Pharmacy in Port Angeles and is not billed by insurance.
The Olympic Medical Center is not administering the test for travel purposes, hospital spokesman Bobby Beeman said.
Walgreen does not charge for PCR tests for travel purposes, a pharmacy technician said on Tuesday.
Canadian tourism and business groups have called on Canada to drop PCR test requirement, say dailyhive.com. The Public Health Agency of Canada will make that decision, Burles said.
Travelers from the United States should submit their travel information through ArriveCAN to canada.ca within 72 hours of their arrival.
They should provide contact information and travel details, vaccination information and pre-entry test results as well as a quarantine plan that includes a 14-day quarantine place if a person develops symptoms of COVID-19 or is tested positive while in Canada.
Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn’t expect many Americans to visit Victoria until the PCR test requirement is dropped, he s he expects to see many Canadians disembark from Coho in Port Angeles.
“I think it’s really brave of Black Ball to go ahead and start this serve,” said Abshire.
“We are really excited. We look forward to hearing the horn regularly again, and I hope this will prompt Canada to abandon the PCR test, as this boat is going to enter Victoria Harbor without many Americans on board, ”he said. he declares.
“Until they get rid of that PCR test, you can’t really tell the border is really, completely open.”
Senior Editor Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].