Let BC Ferries passengers stay in their cars to stay COVID-safe

Let BC Ferries passengers stay in their cars to stay COVID-safe

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Damien Gillis started this petition to Transport Canada and

At the outset of COVID-19, Transport Canada provided BC Ferries an exemption from the law that requires vehicle passengers on a vessel's lower decks to go up to the passenger deck during their voyage. This change made perfect sense, given the very real and significant risks posed by the pandemic vs. the highly unlikely chance of injury from remaining on the vehicle deck in the rare case of a fire or sinking. 

But on September 30, 2020, the federal regulator inexplicably reversed this exemption, forcing passengers to expose themselves to increased risk of COVID-19 transmission by vacating the safety of their vehicles. The reasoning provided by BC Ferries is incomprehensible and unjustifiable (see their handout). While BC Ferries has hired additional security staff to police the lower vehicle decks and enforce this dangerous rule, they are not applying the same enforcement to passengers who refuse to wear their masks properly on the passenger deck, amid poor ventilation, mask-free restaurants, and often densely packed vessels. 

At the time Transport Canada ended this important exemption, BC Premier John Horgan expressed his frustration and the desire to have the exemption remain in effect. But nothing has changed since September 30 and passenger safety remains compromised amid an explosion of new COVID cases.

We therefore call on both the BC and Canadian governments to work together to enable passengers to remain on all vehicle decks and protect their health in this unprecedented pandemic. As a coastal province, ferries are an essential component of our provincial transportation system in BC and should not be a source of unnecessary, increased health risks to the passengers who use them. The situation is unacceptable and must be changed immediately.

 

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