Mask-wearing now mandatory on Northumberland Ferries

·2 min read

Northumberland Ferries Ltd. has made wearing masks mandatory for people on the ferry travelling between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

A new banner on the company's website says that effective Oct. 14, passengers and crew are required to wear masks or face coverings at all times unless they are in a vehicle or outdoors.

"NFL has reviewed its COVID-19 management plan and concluded that the introduction of a mandatory mask policy was appropriate at this time," said Don Cormier, the vice-president of operations and safety management for Northumberland Ferries in an email to CBC News Thursday.

"The effects of a second wave are having significant impacts in other communities and countries. The province of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have mandatory mask requirements for public indoor spaces. The [Chief Public Health Office] of P.E.I. is strongly recommending that [masks] be worn when in public facilities," Cormier said. "NFL has modified its mask policy in the interest of the health of our communities, passengers and employees."

Exceptions to the rule

There are however several exceptions to the new rule listed on the company's website, including: children under two, children two to four who refuse to wear a mask, anyone with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask (documentation required), anyone who is "reasonably accommodated under the Human Rights Act," people who are unable to remove their mask without assistance, and while people are eating or drinking.

Crew can also go without masks while directing traffic on vehicle decks — although they must have their masks visible and ready — or if they are physically distancing and not working in public areas.

Passengers are told when they book their crossings that they must bring their own mask. There is no word on what will happen if ferry users who are able to wear a mask refuse to do so.

NFL's website also links to Transport Canada's website, which notes the federal government is asking all travellers to use a face covering during travel on passenger vessels and ferries.

"Passengers should confirm that they have acceptable face covering in their possession, otherwise boarding of the vessel could be denied," the government website states. It also provides diagrams of no-sew masks using a folded scarf, bandana, or a T-shirt.

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