The option for BC Ferries’ passengers to stay in their vehicles in enclosed decks is coming to an end.

Starting Sept. 30th, you’ll have to leave your vehicle if you’re parked on a lower deck.

On larger ships, you’ll still be able to remain in your vehicle on the upper, or open, deck.

The company said that Transport Canada is rescinding the temporary flexibility “now that measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Transport Canada granted this flexibility in the spring in response to the pandemic. 

BC Ferries says it must comply with Transport Canada regulations and the company supports the regulation and its intent. 

The company added that enclosed car decks “are spaces that represent inherent risk to the travelling public.” 

“During the pandemic these risks were mitigated with additional safety procedures and patrols. However, Transport Canada has now advised BC Ferries that measures have been developed and implemented to prevent the spread of the disease in all transportation modes and businesses across Canada,” BC Ferries said. 

BC Ferries says safety measures in place include additional cleaning, sanitization, physical distancing and mandatory wearing of face coverings while at the terminal and onboard the vessel. 

The company will also reopen certain areas of the vessels, such as the Pacific Buffet area on the Spirit Class vessels, for seating only, as a way to provide passengers more space for physical distancing. 

However, the buffet will stay closed. 

“Safety is our highest value and we provide a safe and healthy travel experience. Customers are legally required to comply with this federal regulation,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President & CEO. 

“We expect our customers to follow the law and we continue to have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of any kind towards our employees. Failure to follow the direction of our crew or abuse towards an employee may result in denial of service and Transport Canada enforcement measures.” 

When Transport Canada rescinds the temporary flexibility on Sept. 30, BC Ferries, they’ll impact the following routes:

  •  Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay  
  • Tsawwassen – Duke Point  
  • Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay  
  • Powell River – Comox  
  • Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands

The temporary flexibility to the regulation was not implemented to northern routes between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, and Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, and so those routes remain unchanged. 

On the Horseshoe Bay – Langdale route, BC Ferries has approval from Transport Canada to safely allow passengers to remain on the main vehicle deck, following modifications to the vessels and procedures. 

This does not apply to any other routes. 

Access restrictions to enclosed vehicle decks will not apply when passengers are directed by announcement to return to their vehicles before the vessel docks. 

The option for BC Ferries’ passengers to stay in their vehicles in enclosed decks is coming to an end.