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BC Ferries making masks mandatory on ships, in terminals

(Riley Phillips for NEWS 1130)

Starting Aug. 24 masks will be mandatory at all times while on board BC Ferries, in terminals

The previous police required passengers to have masks, wear them when physical distancing was not possible

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Starting Monday, anyone in a BC Ferries terminal or on board a BC Ferries vessel will have to wear a mask or face covering.

This replaces the previous policy which required passengers to have a mask while travelling and to wear it in situations where physical distance could not be maintained.

The ferry service continues to struggle with a drastic drop in ridership and revenue due to the pandemic.

A statement from BC Ferries says ferry traffic dropped 75 to 80 per cent across the system in a matter of days at the outset of the pandemic.

“With the Province’s recent easing of travel restrictions, traffic at the end of June partially recovered and was down approximately 35 per cent compared to this period last year,” the statement continues.

RELATED: BC Ferries eligible for COVID-19 transit funding

BC Ferries says the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in first quarter losses of $62 million, compared with net earnings of $12.2 million in the same period last year.

The losses are from three months ending June 30.

It says revenue was down $109 million as special measures were brought in to prevent the spread of COVID-19, although that was partly offset by a reduction in operating expenses of $36.7 million.

The province announced earlier this month that BC Ferries would be included in a $1.08-billion fund provided by the federal and provincial governments to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

The service has made moves to cut spending.

“We made prudent decisions to remove costs for the health of the ferry system. This is decisive action to safeguard the coastal ferry service for the long term, while continuing to provide essential services to customers and communities,” said BC Ferries President Mark Collins.

“We have been bringing back service capacity to coastal communities ahead of gradually increasing demand.”