BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

BC Ferries’ current ability to restrict and prohibit people from travelling has the same effect as a federal prohibition on sick travellers on ferries, but smaller operators may not have the same power.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 28 that people who are sick or who are symptomatic would not be allowed to travel via planes or trains within the country. Ferries were not included in the announcement, which prompted a call from the Canadian Ferry Association to be included. The association represents all ferry operators across Canada, including everything from small river ferries to large ocean-going vessels. Their call was to have ferries included in the restrictions because of that diversity, saying that national rules were required to ensure they fit all operational sizes.

“Like planes, there are small ferries and big ferries. There are significant differences between ferries. But rules addressing bans for people with COVID-19 symptoms to board ferries can be implemented throughout the sector,” said a release from CFA. “Ferries operate throughout the country. Some cross rivers and cover short distances while other can represent voyages of ten hours or more. There are municipal ferries and interprovincial ferries. The sector is varied and national leadership is required.”

BC Ferries is a member of the Canadian Ferry Association. However, BC Ferries staff have always reserved the right to prohibit people from travelling, though that right is typically used for people who are intoxicated or abusive to staff and other passengers.

“If we felt the need and someone was ill and would be a concern to other passengers, we would deny them travel,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

BC Ferries has asked customers to not travel with them if they are sick, and that passengers only use ferries for essential travel. Since that announcement, BC Ferries has seen travel decrease by around 70 per cent, Marshall said. By asking customers to avoid travel if they are sick, and exercising the right to ban individual passengers, BC ferries is able to approximate the federal regulations without needing the official announcement.

“If customers are ill or are exhibiting any signs of illness, we’re asking them not to travel with us,” said Marshall. “I’m not seeing it being a whole lot different than what the federal announcement was regarding the other types of transportation systems.”

Since their purview is national and they speak for smaller regional operators, the CFA did feel the call was necessary to ensure rules apply to all ferry operators in the country.

A BC Ferries pandemic response plan has been initiated, and is currently at stage 4. That stage includes the reduction to essential traffic only and possible schedule changes. Marshall said other stages are possible and that BC Ferries is currently talking to the provincial government about reducing sailings further, but that they were not ready to release details of that plan.

“Now we are providing a lot of sailings that are going back and forth virtually empty. That puts our crew at risk, and if we can reduce some service then that helps keep our crew safe and resilient. If we’ve got employees who are sick, then they have to stay home and self-isolate,” said Marshall, adding that it would be preferable to have “a better pool of employees to draw on, instead of sending sailings back and forth with nobody travelling. That’s not a good use of our crew.”

Last week, the provincial government announced that ferries are an essential service, and that they would be maintaining the links between communities to ensure nobody is left behind.

“It is very important that we keep our ferry services going so we can keep our smaller communities going,” Marshall said. “People need groceries.”

RELATED: Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

bc ferryCoronavirusNews

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Uptick in calls to Haven Society crisis line as restrictions ease

Organization reminds people of their range of services

Nanaimo RCMP seek owner of bike recovered in downtown area

Grey Cannondale road bike found on Wesley Street in Nanaimo on May 23

Proposed $2.5-million renovation at Dover Bay secondary would increase school’s capacity

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools to submit draft concept plan to Ministry of Education by Aug. 1

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No government interested in paying for rail right now

Rail advocates are ignoring the basic problem of affordability, says letter writer

Nanaimo Art Gallery announces new executive director

Former Prince George gallery director Carolyn Holmes to take on role

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Most Read