Isle of Wight Ferries Discourage Leisure Passengers During Lockdown

red falcon ferry
File image courtesy Geni / CC BY-SA 4.0

Published Nov 5, 2020 3:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Isle of Wight, located in the English Channel just one mile off the coast of Britain, is normally enthusiastic about the economic benefits of tourist traffic. This season, though, the UK is back in a COVID-19 lockdown, and the national government has asked citizens not to travel for vacations or to visit second homes. On Isle of Wight, island residents and ferry operators are asking leisure travelers to stay away until the public health risks have eased.

"Many people are expressing concerns that people will try and travel here like they did in the last lockdown, potentially spreading the virus to the island population," campaign organizer Mark Jefferies told the Portsmouth News. 

The residents' group would like to see new emergency powers for elected officials to ban visitors from the island, along with special arrangements to ensure passage for essential workers. Nationally, the UK government has advised citizens that travel involving an overnight stay is not allowed, except when required for work or other essential circumstances.

The ferry operators Red Funnel and Wightlink are joining the call for limited travel, and they are reminding passengers of the rules. 

"To those who need to use our services in accordance with government restrictions during this impending lockdown, I want to assure you that it continues to be safe to travel with Red Funnel. We’ve gone to great lengths to implement enhanced safety measures across every area of our business and our team continues to make safety our very highest priority," said Red Funnel CEO Fran Collins in a statement. "Conversely, I implore those who do not meet the criteria to travel with us right now, to please do the right thing, and stay home, stay local and stay safe . . . We appreciate cancelling holidays or deferring visiting with friends and family can be difficult news to bear, but we’ve been through this before and we will get through this again."

Passenger capacity limits, sailing schedules and freight services will remain unchanged on Red Funnel's ferries. On car ferries, those who have health vulnerabilities will be permitted to stay within their cars during crossings. For passengers with an existing booking, reservations can be changed to a new date with no extra fees (except for any changes in the base fare).