The BC RCMP is preparing to have a presence onboard BC Ferries, beginning this weekend, in an effort to support new regulations amid COVID-19.
The RCMP West Coast Marine Services will have officers available on some vessels, starting on Nov. 6, “educating passengers on safety rules and enforcing the Canada Shipping Act.”
According to the BC RCMP, the onboard support has been requested from BC Ferries and Transport Canada.
In a press release issued on Friday, the RCMP outline that officers will conduct “ferry walkabouts” to enforce the regulation that requires ferry passengers to exit their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks and stay in designated passenger areas while the ferry is operating.
This rule, re-instated by Transport Canada following a temporary pause during the pandemic, does not apply to open (including partially enclosed) vehicle decks.
In March, passengers were allowed to remain in their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks due to the onset of health risks associated with COVID-19.
“Since then, we have learned more about how to protect ourselves and travel safely. However, remaining in a vehicle on an enclosed vehicle deck while a ferry is operating is not safe for passengers and has been banned internationally,” reads a statement from the RCMP.
West Coast Marine Services officers, BC Ferries, and Transport Canada will be checking that passengers are following the safety regulations and will have the authority to issue an administrative monetary penalty to non-compliant passengers, according to the release.
We are committed to public safety and security and want to support the Provincial and Federal governments’ response to the pandemic in every capacity. Enforcement and education will be conducted in partnership with BC Ferries, to ensure that Transport Canada’s protocols around Covid-19 are met. said Chief Superintendent Dave Attfield of the RCMP.
We are confident that education and awareness will help boost compliance rates on BC Ferries around marine safety measures.
The announcement of a police presence on board vessels comes just a few days after officers were called to an incident at the Tsawwassen terminal for a woman refusing to wear a mask. In a post made to social media following the incident, the woman revealed it was due to medical reasons.
BC Ferries has implemented several new regulations as a result of the pandemic, including mandated face coverings for passengers on vessels and in terminals.
At this time it isn’t evidently clear how long the BC RCMP will have an onboard presence.