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Air, ferry and border lineups reported on first long weekend without COVID-19 restrictions

Click to play video: 'British Columbians show travel patience'
British Columbians show travel patience
With the Easter long weekend upon us, some old habits have returned, now that pandemic restrictions have eased. That includes hours-long lines at the U.S. border and the ferry terminals, as British Columbians look to get away for a few days. Rumina Daya reports. – Apr 15, 2022

Travellers hitting the road on Friday could find themselves facing a variety of delays as the province enters the first long weekend since COVID-19 restrictions were removed.

BC Ferries said sailings from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands were already fully booked Friday morning, with high volume and limited capacity on other major routes.

On Thursday, ferry travellers found themselves facing long delays after the company had to pull one of its vessels from service due to a hydraulic failure. The Queen of Oak Bay was back in service Friday.

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The ferry company has added extra sailings and, as of mid-day Friday, all sailings were proceeding as scheduled. However, travellers are being advised to reserve their space, travel at off-peak times if possible and check the BC Ferries website before leaving. You can view current conditions here.

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Click to play video: 'BC Ferries struggling with crew shortages'
BC Ferries struggling with crew shortages

Travellers also reported major delays at U.S. border crossings on Friday, with some spending two to three hours in line to get into Washington State.

Surrey RCMP said border wait times around mid-day were hovering between 90 minutes to two hours, and urged people not to block local intersections or driveways.

Laurie Trautman, director of Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research, said increased volume at the borders was expected given that this is the first holiday weekend since PCR testing requirements were scrapped.

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But she said she was surprised to see how long the waits have been given that border traffic has only rebounded to about 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, even at peak periods.

“The volumes are still lower and the wait times are higher, and I think that’s concerning,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Canada’s travel rules change for fully vaccinated travellers'
Canada’s travel rules change for fully vaccinated travellers

Trautman said Canadians returning home on Sunday may want to plan their trip to avoid the high-traffic afternoon period.

“If you can start your trip earlier or delay your return trip until later you will probably face less wait times,” she said.

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“Another thing is to absolutely have your ArriveCAN submission done in advance. You can do that up to 72 hours before your arrival.”

Travellers by land and sea weren’t the only ones facing delays Friday.

The Vancouver International Airport said it was seeing its highest passenger volumes in more than two years this weekend.

“There may be long lineups,” the airport warned.

“Travellers need to arrive at the airport extra early and be prepared as they move through the travel process.”

YVR is also providing an air travel “refresher” online to help passengers get through the process as quickly as possible.

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