Canada clamps down on ferries

2020-04-14T08:09:42+00:00 April 14th, 2020|Safety|

Canada’s Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau (pictured), has announced new measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on commercial passenger vessels and ferries.

As of 6th April, all commercial marine vessels with a capacity of more than 12 passengers are prohibited from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation.

These measures will remain in place until at least 30th June.

They also prevent any Canadian cruise ship from mooring, navigating, or transiting in Canadian Arctic waters (including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast) until at least 31st October, 2020.

Ferries and essential passenger vessel operators will have to reduce the maximum number of passengers carried on board by 50%, ie, conduct half-load voyages, to support the 2 m physical distancing rule or implement alternative practices to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, consistent with Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines, among passengers on board their vessels. These include keeping people in their vehicles, when feasible or enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.

In addition, Transport Canada has issued guidelines to ferry operators requesting passenger health screening before boarding.

These measures apply to all of Canada’s coastal and inland waters, including the St Lawrence River/Seaway, the Great Lakes and Canada’s Arctic waters.

Failure to abide by these new measures could lead to penalties of up to $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a vessel or corporation, as well as criminal sanctions, which include up to $1 mill in fines and/or up to 18 months’ imprisonment.

The new measures do not apply to:

  • Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries, water taxis, and medical-use vessels.
    • Canadian commercial passenger vessels, without passengers, moving for repairs or repositioning.
    • Canadian commercial passenger vessels that are not in service.
  • Pleasure craft (eg, non-commercial vessels).