(Black Press Media files)

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

As new restrictions came into effect barring people with symptoms of COVID-19 from planes and trains, ferry operators called for the federal government to ban such travellers from their vessels as well.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the travel ban for domestic flights and intercity trains over the weekend as the federal government escalated its efforts to curb the spread of the deadly respiratory illness across Canada.

The prime minister sidestepped a question during his daily news conference on Monday about relying on staff at airports and train stations who don’t have medical training and in some cases protective equipment to screen passengers.

“The fundamental principle we’ve put forward is if you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you feel you might have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home,” Trudeau said.

“That is what we are asking of all Canadians and these measures we’ve brought in for airlines and railways is an additional measure, an additional encouragement and expectation that people who have symptoms of COVID-19 will not travel.”

The comments came as the Canadian Ferry Association, which represents operators across the country, said the travel restrictions for those displaying symptoms of COVID-19 need to be extended to those trying to board ferries. BC Ferries is a member of the organization.

“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,” association CEO Serge Buy said in a statement.

“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.”

Buy said the pandemic has worsened already severe workforce shortages in the sector and that the infection of one crew member could disrupt the transport of passengers and goods to communities that rely on such service.

READ MORE: BC Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

READ MORE: WestJet extends international flight suspensions into May amid COVID-19 pandemic

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