In response to customer demand during the COVID-19 outbreak, B.C. Ferries has announced that passengers have the option of isolating themselves in their vehicles on enclosed car decks as well as open decks.
A federal rule banning passengers from remaining in vehicles on enclosed decks, to ensure they don’t become trapped in an emergency, has been temporarily waived as the result of collaboration between Transport Canada and the Canadian Ferry Association.
The goal is to provide ferry operators with the flexibility to help protect passengers and their families from COVID-19.
“What Transport Canada has to do is balance the risk of being on that deck and the risk of being on the passenger deck,” said B.C. Ferries chief executive Mark Collins.
Collins said there is a high risk of death for passengers trapped on enclosed decks in the case of fires and other disasters.
While the rule has been relaxed temporarily, B.C. Ferries will increase patrols on the enclosed car deck to ensure safety in the rare event of an emergency. Passengers will not be allowed on closed car decks once the COVID-19 outbreak ends.
“B.C. Ferries, the province, and the federal government are doing everything they can to help prevent the spread of this illness,” Collins said, noting the corporation has taken steps including increasing cleaning on board and at terminals, closing the Pacific Buffet and posting signs encouraging customers to practice good hand-washing and social distancing routines.