Provincial ferry services in Newfoundland and Labrador have tightened rules on how many people, and who can travel on the boats.
The government announced the changes on March 25, limiting passengers to essential workers travelling to their workplace; patients travelling for medical reasons; those travelling to purchase essential goods and supplies, such as groceries, who are not available in their home community; and those transporting essential goods.
A release from the Department of Transportation and Works said the number of trips for each ferry run is also being reduced, passengers must remain in their vehicles during crossings to practice social distancing, and the number of passengers travelling per trip on the Kamutik W between Corner Brook and Blanc Sablon has been reduced to 53.
The changes came the same day the Kamutik W ferry landed in Blanc Sablon after being on the sea for more than 50 hours. The ferry had passengers on board who had recently returned from outside the country and was boarded by officials when it landed.
According to a release from the Quebec Integrated Center for Health and Social Services (CISSS) of the North Coast, the passengers were evaluated by nurses from the organization and a clinical team from the NL public health division gave information and issued directives related to COVID-19 to all passengers of the ship.
Premier Dwight Ball said the rules around declaring international travel or travel from another province were clearly posted and in that case were violated.
“What I’m told and understand is that (a) disclosure form was not filled out, which clearly would be something…they should be disclosing the information that they were asked,” he told media on March 25.
Marine Atlantic also makes changes
Marine Atlantic announced on March 27 they would be decreasing the number of passengers allowed on their boats to 100 as of April 1, to further promote social distancing and isolation activities.
“These measures are being introduced to allow us to meet our guiding principles of protecting the health and safety of customers and employees, while maintaining our essential ferry link,” the release stated. “We thank customers for their understanding and co-operation during these challenging times. We will continue to work with health professionals and make additional adjustments to our operational policies and procedures, as required.”
The company will also bring in enhanced screening measures, denying passage to anyone exhibiting potential signs of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or sore throat) and providing a pre-packaged box lunch to all passengers. Restaurant service will no longer be offered and according to Marine Atlantic, retail shops, snack bars, and the bar service have already been closed.