Ferries from Departure Bay ferry terminal are now sailing at 70 per cent capacity, says B.C. Ferries. The COVID-19 pandemic saw 50 per cent capacity. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Ferries from Departure Bay ferry terminal are now sailing at 70 per cent capacity, says B.C. Ferries. The COVID-19 pandemic saw 50 per cent capacity. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Departure Bay ferry capacity increases to 70%, says B.C. Ferries

Fifty-per-cent limit being phased out, B.C. Ferries has no current plans to provide masks

After restrictions were implemented on ferry sailings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, B.C. Ferries says it is increasing passenger capacity due to demand.

The onset of coronavirus saw 50 per cent passenger capacity on sailings to adhere to Transport Canada regulations, along with enhanced cleaning and safe distancing requirements. Sailings from Nanaimo to West Vancouver were also halted in April, but resumed in June.

Tessa Humphries, B.C. Ferries spokesperson, said there has been a decrease in traffic and with measures already in place, a requirement for masks and B.C. entering Phase 3 of its restart plan, capacity limitations are starting to be phased out.

B.C. Ferries consulted with Transport Canada and the move will add significantly more capacity to each sailing, Humphries said.

Humphries said the Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay route has seen a significant increase in traffic and is currently running at 70 per cent capacity. Duke Point-Tsawwassen is also running at 70 per cent and B.C. Ferries is “certainly” moving back to that for the majority of its sailings and gradually introducing service as safely as possible, she said.

Passengers are asked whether they have face coverings during screening, but Humphries said B.C. Ferries doesn’t currently have plans to provide masks.

“At this time we’re monitoring the situation … the additional measures, we’re constantly reviewing them and seeing what we can do to assist with customers,” said Humphries. “At this point in time, we are doing our best to let customers know in advance the requirement for the face covering and it can also be something like a bandana that is securely tied and fastened around a customers face.”

B.C. Ferries is also allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles during sailings due to the pandemic and has installed Plexiglas barriers onboard vessels.

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