Travellers using BC Ferries will be subject to health checks starting Monday, April 6, 2020. (Black Press Media File).

BC Ferries to bring in health checks as feds restrict marine travel due to COVID-19

Measures announced Sunday came into effect Monday

Travellers using BC Ferries will see significant changes starting Monday (April 6) after the federal government announced new measures to fight COVID-19.

As part of new measures announced Sunday, Transport Canada has issued guidelines for screening all passengers boarding sailings longer than 30 minutes. The rules will apply until June 30.

“Vessel operators should, where possible and practical, observe and do a health check of all passengers before they board the vessel,” it reads. The guidelines include a questionnaire with four questions to be asked of travellers by ferry operator employees.

RELATED: No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

If a passenger is seen to have COVID-19 symptoms or their response to health check questions indicates a need to deny boarding, the vessel operator should refuse to allow that person on board for 14 days, or until a medical certificate clearing the patient is presented.

The new rules say that if it’s not possible to deny boarding, operators should take steps to ensure impacted passenger should be self-isolated, for example, by staying in their vehicles during the whole trip.

“If the passenger must travel for the purpose of receiving needed medical services, they should take precautions to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 such as staying in their car as much as possible, wearing a mask and maintaining a minimum of two metres from any other passenger,” Transport Canada said.

The coming health checks are part of a series new rules effective Monday starting at 9 a.m. local time. They state that operators of vessels carrying more than 12 passengers must immediately reduce sailings by 50 per cent of the maximum number of passengers to help with physical distancing or implement alternative practices consistent with Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines.

According to the guidelines, ferry operators “should, when feasible” notify passengers before boarding that they may be subject to a health check to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have the crew (or crew members) read out the announcement (or post signage) and conduct the health checks.

The new regulations also include a ban on Canadian cruise ships entering the Arctic.


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