Masks to become mandatory at BC Ferries terminals, vessels starting Monday

WatchStarting Aug. 24, you will have to wear a mask when at any BC Ferries terminal and onboard any vessel. But there are a few exceptions. April Lawrence reports.

BC Ferries’ mandatory face mask policy will be in place on Aug. 24 and more information has been released about the upcoming change.

Starting on Aug. 24, all walk-on and vehicle passengers must wear non-medical masks or face coverings at a BC Ferries terminal or on a BC Ferries ship. However, there is an exception if a customer is inside a vehicle or consuming food or drinks while maintaining a physical distance.

Customers with an underlying medical condition or disability that inhibits the ability to wear a face covering, those who are unable to place or remove a face covering without assistance, and children under two years of age do not need to wear a mask.

BC Ferries are also required to wear face masks or coverings, except those working behind a
a physical barrier or within employee-only areas while maintaining an appropriate physical distance.

“BC Ferries’ priority is the health and safety of our employees and customers,” BC Ferries President & CEO Mark Collins said in a statement.

“We urge and expect our customers to behave responsibly when they are travelling with us. Please do not travel if you feel sick. While using the ferry system you are required to wear a face-covering at all times and maintain appropriate physical distance. Travellers not following this requirement can be banned from travel. Please follow the directions of BC Ferries staff and crew.”

BC Ferries has other measures in place, including signs for physical distancing, screening customers on arrival at the ticket booth, allowing customers to remain in their vehicles on all decks during the sailing, enhanced cleaning, physical barriers and reduced seating density.

“We understand that many customers are anxious about COVID-19 and our employees are doing great work to accommodate customers during this time,” Collins said.

“I want to remind customers that we do not tolerate any form of abuse, including verbal abuse, towards our employees. Failure to follow direction and abuse of any kind will result in denial of travel.”

Graeme Johnston, the provincial president of the BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union, said the union is supportive of good public health policy and practices, and this includes the use of face coverings or non-medical masks when indoors and or when people are unable to maintain two metres social distancing.

“In regards to BC Ferries announced mask policy, the union hopes to work with BC Ferries to fine-tune this policy,” Johnston said in a statement.

The new mask mandate aligns with other provincial travel, including BC Transit and TransLink, that will be making masks mandatory for all riders beginning on Aug. 24 as well.

BC Ferries made the announcement about the mandatory face mask policy while releasing its first-quarter results on Thursday, showing a net loss of $62 million.

Currently, BC Ferries requires passengers travelling on their vessels to be in possession of a face covering that covers their mouth and nose. The company has been asking customers to wear face coverings when the physical separation of two metres could not be maintained.

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