Canada Tightens Regulations on Ferries and Cruise Ships

file photo
file photo

Published Apr 5, 2020 7:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

Canada's Minister of Transport Marc Garneau has announced new measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on commercial passenger vessels and ferries.

As of April 6, the new measures prohibit all commercial marine vessels with a capacity of more than 12 passengers from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation. These measures will remain in place until at least June 30.

They also prevent any Canadian cruise ship from mooring, navigating, or transiting in Canadian Arctic waters (including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast). The measures will remain in place until October 31, 2020.

Ferries and essential passenger vessel operators will have to reduce by 50 percent the maximum number of passengers that may be carried on board (conduct half-load voyages) to support the two-meter physical distancing rule or implement alternative practices to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 (consistent with Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines) among passengers on board their vessels, such as keeping people in their vehicles, when feasible or enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures.

In addition to these measures, Transport Canada is issuing guidelines to ferry operators requesting health screening for all passengers before boarding.

These measures apply to all of Canada’s coastal and inland waters, including the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, and Canada’s Arctic waters. Failing to abide by these new measures could lead to penalties of up to $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a vessel or corporation, as well as criminal sanctions, which include up to $1 million in fines and/or up to 18 months' imprisonment.

The new measures do not apply to:

• essential passenger vessels such as ferries, water taxis, and medical-use vessels;
• cargo vessels, barges, work boats, fishing vessels and other commercial vessels who operate to support resupply operations and the movement of goods through Canada’s supply chain;
• Canadian commercial passenger vessels, without passengers, moving for repairs or repositioning;
• Canadian commercial passenger vessels that are not in service; and
• pleasure craft (e.g. non-commercial vessels).

The measures follow an announcement made on March 13, to defer the start of the cruise ship season in Canada until July 1, 2020, at the earliest.