Ferries from Departure Bay ferry terminal are now sailing at 70 per cent capacity, says B.C. Ferries. The COVID-19 pandemic saw 50 per cent capacity. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Ferries from Departure Bay ferry terminal are now sailing at 70 per cent capacity, says B.C. Ferries. The COVID-19 pandemic saw 50 per cent capacity. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

After restrictions were implemented on ferry sailings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, B.C. Ferries says it is increasing passenger capacity due to demand.

The onset of coronavirus saw 50 per cent passenger capacity on sailings to adhere to interim Transport Canada regulations, along with enhanced cleaning and safe distancing requirements, with traffic seeing a significant drop, according to Tessa Humphries, B.C. Ferries spokesperson.

“As B.C. has opened up and we’ve moved into Phase 3, and after we carefully examined the business and implemented many new alternative practices, such as requiring customers to wear a face covering, we’re starting to phase out the 50 per cent capacity limitation and we’ve consulted with Transport Canada about this and advised the additional measures that we’ve implemented… so by phasing out the 50 per cent it [cap] immediately adds significantly more capacity to each sailing,” Humphries told Black Press Media.

In the case of sailings from Departure Bay and Duke Point terminals in the Nanaimo area to the Lower Mainland, Humphries said B.C. Ferries has been able to increase capacity to 70 per cent and it is “certainly moving back” to that for the majority of its sailings and gradually re-introducing service as carefully and safely as it possibly can.

“For the Nanaimo route in particular, the Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay route, we’ve seen a significant increase in traffic,” said Humphries. “So we’ve been able to go back up to 100 per cent passenger capacity on those routes. We are certainly moving back to it for the majority of our sailings and we’re gradually re-introducing service as carefully and safely as we possibly can.”

The 50 per cent capacity limit has also been removed for the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route as well, according to Humphries.

Passengers are asked whether they have face coverings during screening, but Humphries said B.C. Ferries doesn’t currently have plans to provide masks.

“At this time we’re monitoring the situation … the additional measures, we’re constantly reviewing them and seeing what we can do to assist with customers,” said Humphries.

“At this point in time, we are doing our best to let customers know in advance the requirement for the face covering and it can also be something like a bandana that is securely tied and fastened around a customers face.”

Other safety measures include allowing passengers to remain in vehicles during sailings and Plexiglas barriers, said Humphries.

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