A temporary measure that allowed ferry passengers across Canada to remain in their vehicles for the duration of a trip is being rescinded at the end of this month.
In an announcement Wednesday morning, BC Ferries stated that Transport Canada is rescinding the temporary flexibility that allowed ferry operators to let passengers stay in their vehicle on enclosed vehicle decks.
The move was initiated in the spring in order to enable passengers to maintain physical distances while aboard vessels.
BC Ferries said in their statement that they support the move to rescind the temporary flexibility, as enclosed car decks pose an inherent risk to travellers.
Transport Canada has advised that other measures developed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented in all transportation modes and businesses across Canada.
On BC Ferries vessels, these measures include additional cleaning, sanitization, physical distancing and mandatory wearing of face coverings while at the terminal and onboard the vessel.
The company slowly began reopening food services and gift shops over the past few months, and are now poised to open certain parts of the vessels, like the Pacific Buffet area on Spirit Class vessels for seating only.
While buffet service will not be reintroduced at this time, the measure is being taken to give passengers more space for physical distancing.
When Transport Canada rescinds the temporary flexibility on September 30, BC Ferries will
implement its procedures for the regulation on affected routes, which are:
- Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay
- Tsawwassen – Duke Point
- Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay
- Powell River – Comox
- Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands
The company has approval from Transport Canada to allow passengers to remain on the main vehicle deck following modifications to the vessels and procedures, only on the Horseshoe Bay – Langdale route.
The vehicle deck allowance was never implemented on the northern routes between
Port Hardy and Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, which means no changes will be made on those routes.