BC Ferries announced today that as of Sept. 30, Transport Canada is rescinding the temporary flexibility it granted to ferry operators allowing passengers to remain in their vehicle on enclosed vehicle decks.
Transport Canada granted this flexibility in the spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. BC Ferries must comply with Transport Canada regulations and the company supports the regulation and its intent.
Enclosed car decks are spaces that represent inherent risk to the travelling public. During the pandemic these risks were mitigated with additional safety procedures and patrols. However, Transport Canada has now advised BC Ferries that measures have been developed and implemented to prevent the spread of the disease in all transportation modes and businesses across Canada.
They have further advised the marine safety case for ending the practice of permitting people to remain in their vehicles on enclosed car deck is clear. BC Ferries has implemented the measures to which Transport Canada refers above. This includes additional cleaning, sanitization, physical distancing and mandatory wearing of face coverings while at the terminal and onboard the vessel. The company will also reopen certain areas of the vessels, such as the Pacific Buffet area on the Spirit Class vessels, for seating only, as a way to provide passengers more space for physical distancing. Buffet food service is not being reintroduced at this time.
This notice affects the following routes:
Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay
Tsawwassen – Duke Point
Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay
Powell River – Comox
Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands