WEST VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. Ferries is telling anyone who is sick to stay home and not get on a ferry, amid concerns of the growing COVID-19 outbreak.
The ferry authority is asking anyone feeling under the weather not to board its vessels, even if they do not know if they have the coronavirus.
BC Ferries is also increasing cleaning of areas such as handrails, buttons in elevators, and tables in cafeterias.
“We’re also encouraging our customers to continuously wash their hands. Stay home if you’re sick is always a good idea, and use your sleeve or a tissue to sneeze if you do have to sneeze,” explains Deb Marshall, with BC Ferries.
She adds if you aren’t feeling well, but have to sail for whatever reason, to tell a staff member as soon as you get on board.
“Our staff would try to take measures to provide a customer with an environment, wherever possible, to separate themselves from other passengers.”
Due to safety reasons and under Transport Canada rules, you can’t stay in your car on a closed car deck. The majority of minor routes run boats that typically have only open car decks.
“If you’re travelling in a vehicle and you are in the upper car deck or an open car deck, we would encourage you to stay in your vehicle if you are feeling symptoms of illness,” Marshall said. “Otherwise, if you are on the lower car deck, please tell one of our crew members and we can deal with it on a case-by-case basis and that depends on the situation. We certainly want to help our customers wherever we can, but there are Transport Canada regulations in place about the closed car decks.”
Given the outbreak, she said there are no plans to bend those rules.
“Transport Canada regulations do not permit passengers to remain in their vehicles on closed car decks. Passengers are permitted to stay in their vehicles on open vehicle decks of our ferries. If someone does self-identify as having an infectious disease, wherever possible, we can help that person separate themselves from other passengers to help prevent the spread of any infection. But at this point, no, we are not intending to relax that Transport Canada regulation. It is there for safety reasons,” said Marshall.
A statement from Transport Canada said public safety is its top concern and passengers are not permitted to stay in their vehicles on closed vehicle decks. However, passengers on open, upper vehicle decks can stay in their vehicles.
“These regulatory measures are to ensure passenger safety and based on recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board following a fire incident in 2003 on a ferry operating in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Meanwhile, YVR has increased screening in place.
TransLink says all of its bus loops and train cars are being cleaned consistently.
The virus has infected more than 100,000 worldwide and the first death in Canada has been reported at a care home in North Vancouver.