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U.S. billionaire’s superyacht arrives in B.C. for ‘necessary repairs’ amid COVID-19

U.S. billionaire’s luxury superyacht docks in North Vancouver
WATCH: U.S. billionaire's luxury superyacht docks in North Vancouver despite continued coronavirus border restrictions.

The arrival in North Vancouver of a luxury superyacht owned by an American billionaire is raising eyebrows, amid a continued closure of the U.S. border to all but essential travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 100-metre Attessa IV belongs to Montana industrialist Dennis Washington and has been valued by Forbes at about a quarter-billion U.S. dollars.

The vessel arrived on the North Shore on Tuesday from Port Angeles, Wash., as the U.S. continues to struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Read more: Coronavirus: B.C. premier raises ‘Alaska loophole’ with feds amid U.S. vehicle sightings

In a statement, Transport Canada said non-essential travel into the country “including travel by pleasure craft such as the Attessa IV” remains prohibited.

But the Washington Companies, a business umbrella owned by the billionaire that includes Canada’s Seaspan, said the yacht is in the region for “necessary repairs” and was cleared by the Canada Border Services Agency.

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“Crew members were tested prior to joining the vessel,” said executive vice-president Tim McHugh in an email.

“The entire crew was tested on June 19 and declared healthy, and each has been individually cleared by CBSA for entry to Canada with the ship to perform their duties during the repair period.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry says small number of Americans using ‘Alaska loophole’ to travel in B.C.
Dr. Bonnie Henry says small number of Americans using ‘Alaska loophole’ to travel in B.C.

The Canada-U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel until July 21, while a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all entrants to Canada is in place until the end of August.

The CBSA said it could not speak to specific cases, but said Canada does exempt some workers from the quarantine “to ensure that critical infrastructure, essential services and economic supply chains continue,” such as firefighters and medical workers.

“This exemption includes asymptomatic persons in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people, including truck drivers and crew on any plane, train or marine vessel, that cross the border while performing their duties or for the purpose of performing their duties,” the agency said.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Canada-U.S. border shutdown extended to July 21

People covered by the exemption must wear a mask on the way to their destination and must self-isolate when not performing their duties, said the CBSA.

Washington’s company said the vessel is expected to remain dockside until September, when repairs should be completed.