New 'service level adjustments' expected for BC Ferries amid COVID-19 outbreak
BC Ferries has already cancelled sailings, implemented higher cleaning standards, closed food and retail services, restricted cash payments, and asked vehicle passengers to remain in their cars and trucks. (Canadian Press)
VICTORIA -- BC Ferries says further changes to its service levels are likely as the public ferry operator meets with the province this week.
Last week the ferry service asked travellers to avoid all non-essential travel on its routes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
BC Ferries has already cancelled sailings, implemented higher cleaning standards, closed food and retail services, restricted cash payments, and asked vehicle passengers to remain in their cars and trucks to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus to other passengers.
On Wednesday, BC Ferries told CTV News the company is "working with the province on service level adjustments," saying "we expect to make an announcement late this week."
On Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new federal restrictions on domestic air and rail travel for any passengers showing possible symptoms of coronavirus. The restrictions, which came into effect at noon on Monday, ban anyone with a cough or difficulty breathing from boarding a plane or intercity train in Canada.
The new restrictions, however, do not include ferry travel. The exclusion prompted an immediate response from the association representing Canada's ferry sector.
"People with COVID-19 symptoms should also be banned from boarding ferries unless there are emergency requirements, such as going to a hospital, and only with prior notice to the ferry operator," said Serge Buy, the CEO of the Canadian Ferry Association, in a statement Sunday.
"We urge the federal government to better consult with the ferry sector and provide the national leadership required to support critical continued ferry service to communities across the country."