VIA Rail opens route from Winnipeg to Vancouver amid coronavirus

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg to Vancouver VIA Rail route returns' Winnipeg to Vancouver VIA Rail route returns
VIA Rail says it's reopening train travel between Winnipeg and Vancouver – Dec 11, 2020

Winnipeggers can once again take a train to Vancouver amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement posted to its website, VIA Rail says it is reopening train travel between Winnipeg and Vancouver starting Friday.

Read more: 447 cases, 14 new deaths as Manitoba moves into new coronavirus public health orders

“After a very thorough evaluation of our health and safety protocols, including physical distancing measures, enhanced air ventilation systems, and improved measures for passenger access and the protection of our employees, one weekly round-trip will be offered on this portion of the Canadian route,” the statement says.

The move is part of what VIA is calling a “gradual return to service” in Western Canada.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: WHO advises against travelling and large gatherings during holiday season' Coronavirus: WHO advises against travelling and large gatherings during holiday season
Coronavirus: WHO advises against travelling and large gatherings during holiday season – Nov 30, 2020

The Crown corporation says trains will be doing one round-trip per week between Winnipeg and Vancouver to start, and both Sleeper Plus (cabins for one and two passengers) as well as Economy classes will be offered. Prestige class will not be available.

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VIA says passengers will be required to remain in their cabins or assigned seats during the trip and will also need to wear a mask at all times in stations and on board trains, except when in an enclosed cabin or shower, or temporarily while eating or drinking.

Read more: Manitoba extends COVID-19 restrictions into January; drive-in gatherings allowed

Dining cars  will be open to Sleeper Plus passengers for breakfast and dinner, and a reservation system will be in place to control access. Lunch will be provided in-cabin only, and a new at-seat cart service is being offered to those in Economy class.

VIA says it will revise service offerings in the event of “major changes related to the health crisis.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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