Northumberland Ferries passengers must be fully vaccinated starting Tuesday

·2 min read
Ferry officials say they are working to develop a vaccination policy for employees.  (Kevin Baillie - image credit)
Ferry officials say they are working to develop a vaccination policy for employees. (Kevin Baillie - image credit)

Passengers looking to travel to and from Prince Edward Island on the Northumberland Ferries will have to be fully vaccinated starting Oct. 12.

The company said it is developing a vaccination policy for its employees.

"We certainly understand and respect people's choices regarding vaccination," said Donald Cormier, the vice-president and general manager of Northumberland Ferries.

"But there's all kinds of establishment that now people ... basically have to have proof of vaccination to be able to access transportation."

Earlier this week, the federal government announced that by end of the month all travellers in the country will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding planes, trains or marine vessels.

Remaining in vehicles prohibited

According to Cormier, the policy change on the Northumberland Ferries is being implemented as one of its vessels heads to Pictou for major upgrades to its marine evacuation systems.

"For this past operating season, we were able to accommodate self-isolation of customers on the Holiday Island, but that ship is coming out of service," he said.

Because the Holiday Island is considered an open vessel, Cormier said riders had the option of remaining inside their vehicle.

"We were able to accommodate passengers that remained in their vehicles on the vehicle deck and being able to self isolate."

Ed Middleton/CBC News
Ed Middleton/CBC News

But as of Tuesday, only the MV Confederation will be in operation and that is an enclosed vessel.

"Transport Canada ... prohibits passengers from remaining in their vehicles, on vehicle decks, on enclosed passenger decks, meaning that the decks are not open to the weather," he said.

"So we're no longer able to do that when that ship comes out of service."

Moving forward, Cormier said the company will continue to follow all recommendations from the chief public health officers in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

And despite its black-and-white vaccination policy, he said Northumberland Ferries will continue to "advocate for social distancing and wearing masks."

"I believe if we follow all of the recommendations of the various chief public health officers that our society will benefit from that and hopefully we can get through this pandemic and resume ... our normal lifestyle soon."

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