The Government of Canada has issued a new Ship Safety Bulletin (08/2021) on measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on passenger vessels and ferries. It applies to Essential Passenger Vessels which are defined as vessels that are performing essential services and ferry vessels.
Passenger vessels that are certified to carry more than 100 persons (including passengers and crew) and are equipped with overnight capacity for passengers (bunks, cabins etc) are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until 28 February 2022. In addition, vessels certified to carry more than 12 passengers are prohibited from entering Canadian Arctic waters until 28 February 2022.
Essential Passenger Vessels are required to make reasonable efforts to implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in accordance with guidance issued by Transport Canada and local health authorities. They must also immediately reduce the maximum number of passengers on board by 50% or implement alternative practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19 if passenger numbers are not reduced.
Where passenger numbers are not reduced by 50%, a list of potential measures to reduce the COVID-19 transmission are set out in the bulletin. These include, for example, requesting that passengers remain in their vehicles on open car decks during the transit, requiring the use of face coverings and encouraging passengers to wash their hands before boarding. The mitigation measures are then to be submitted to Transport Canada.
Passenger announcements are also to be made. These are set out in the bulletin. Equivalent signage should be posted where it is not feasible to make announcements.