Beginning this weekend, BC RCMP West Coast Marine Services will be on board some BC Ferries vessels to help enforce public health orders related to Covid 19. 

In a news release issued today, RCMP say “BC Ferries and Transport Canada have requested support from RCMP to conduct joint ‘on board’ ferry walkabouts and to enforce the regulation that requires ferry passengers to exit their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks and stay in designated passenger areas while the ferry is operating. This rule does not apply to open (including partially enclosed) vehicle decks where passengers can remain in their vehicles on ferries.”

The RCMP will be doing car checks on the vehicle decks to make sure that passengers are following the regulations.

“In March,” the release says “passengers were allowed to remain in their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks as the health risks associated to COVID-19 were unknown. Since then, we have learned more on how to protect ourselves and travel safely. However, remaining in a vehicle on an enclosed vehicle deck while a ferry is operating is not safe for passengers and has been banned internationally.”

People refusing to follow the health orders can be fined and restricted from using the ferries in the future. 

Before the BC election, Premier John Horgan called on the Federal government to rescind the Transport Canada changes that force riders out of their cars during the pandemic, saying it is counter-intuitive to public safety. The request was denied. 

In 2006, a BC Ferry travelling to Fort Rupert sank, and two passengers were never found. 

RCMP Chief Superintendent Dave Attfield says “We are confident that education and awareness will help boost compliance rates on BC Ferries around marine safety measures.” 

The release did not say what current compliance rates are.