Face masks will be mandatory on BC Ferries starting next week

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Beginning Monday, BC Ferries is requiring all passengers to wear non-medical masks or masks at its terminals and on board ferries to prevent the spread of COVID-19.The new policy comes as ridership for the ferry service rebounds after an unprecedented drop in traffic due to the global pandemic.

In June, BC Ferries said it was necessary to cover the face when “the two-meter physical separation cannot be maintained,” but has since updated its security protocols that require all passengers to wear masks. starting August 24.

In a statement, BC Ferries says the pandemic had a significant impact on its first quarter results, with net losses of $ 62 million in the three months ending June 30, 2020 – a stark contrast to net income of $ 12.2 million for the same period last year.

The number of passengers aboard BC Ferries fell by 75 to 80 percent in the days following the start of the global pandemic. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

“While COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on our business, I would like to express my deep gratitude to our frontline staff who have come to work every day in the depths of the pandemic to provide a vital service to communities. coastal, ”said Mark Collins, President and CEO of BC Ferries.

Ferry traffic dropped by 80% across the network in the weeks after the start of the pandemic. But as the summer began and travel restrictions in the province were relaxed, the ferry service was adding 120 more crossings per week on its major routes.

By the end of June, ridership had partially recovered and was down approximately 35% from the same period in 2019.

Compensation for losses

To help offset these losses, BC Ferries said it had postponed some capital projects, reduced discretionary spending and reduced crossings to match the loss in passenger traffic – which reduced overall operating costs from $ 36 million.

“This is a decisive action to safeguard the coastal ferry service for the long term, while continuing to provide essential services to customers and communities,” said Collins. “We restored the service capacity of coastal communities before the demand gradually increased. ”

The ferry company said it would continue to screen passengers upon arrival at the terminal – and allow people to stay in their cars during crossings.

In June, BC Ferries said it could be two to three years for traffic to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

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