Both BC Ferries and BC Transit announced Friday that they will require their customers to wear non-medical masks or face coverings when travelling with those agencies as of Monday, Aug. 24.
“All walk-on and vehicle passengers will be required to wear face coverings at all times when at a BC Ferries terminal or on a BC Ferries ship, with the exception being if a customer is inside a vehicle or consuming food or drinks while maintaining physical distance,” BC Ferries states in a press release. “Also exempt are customers with an underlying medical condition or disability that inhibits the ability to wear a face covering, those who are unable to place or remove a face covering without assistance, and children under two years of age. This requirement also applies to BC Ferries employees, except those working behind a physical barrier or within employee only areas while maintaining appropriate physical distance.
“We recognize the advice from health professionals, including Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, has been to wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible including on transit vehicles. Customers have indicated making the use of face coverings mandatory will create a more comfortable environment,” said BC Transit.
Accommodations will be permitted for children under the age of five and those that cannot wear a face covering for health reasons. Customers will be expected to supply their own face covering for their transit journey.
“While face coverings will be mandatory, the policy will be implemented as an educational step without enforcement,” BC Transit added. “The educational position is aligned with TransLink and other transit agencies in Canada.”
BC Ferries has a number of additional preventive measures in place, including support for physical distancing, screening customers on arrival at the ticket booth, allowing customers to remain in their vehicles on all decks during the sailing, enhanced cleaning, physical barriers and reduced seating density.
“We understand that many customers are anxious about COVID-19 and our employees are doing great work to accommodate customers during this time,” said BCF president and CAO Collins. “I want to remind customers that we do not tolerate any form of abuse, including verbal abuse, towards our employees. Failure to follow direction and abuse of any kind will result in denial of travel.”