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Vaccines won’t be needed to ride BC Ferries under new federal mandate

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ottawa mandates vaccinations for domestic travel' COVID-19: Ottawa mandates vaccinations for domestic travel
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that as of the end of October, anyone travelling by air or rail within Canada will have to be fully vaccinated. Ted Chernecki has the details, and the reaction here in B.C. – Oct 6, 2021

Passengers on BC Ferries vessels won’t need to show proof of immunization against COVID-19 under new federal rules announced Wednesday covering air, rail and marine travel.

Under the new regulations, passengers flying out of Canadian airports, passengers on VIA Rail and the Rocky Mountaineer and marine passengers on non-essential vessels taking voyages of 24 hours or more will need to be vaccinated starting Oct. 30.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for federal workers by end of October, Trudeau announces

“Mandatory vaccine requirements announced by the federal government today will not apply to BC Ferries passengers,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall confirmed Wednesday.

Masks remain mandatory for all passengers over the age of 12 in all indoor spaces on ferries or at terminals.

Click to play video: 'Tips for surviving long weekend ferry traffic' Tips for surviving long weekend ferry traffic
Tips for surviving long weekend ferry traffic – Oct 6, 2021

The new federal policy, however, could have an impact on BC Ferries staff.

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Under the rules announced Wednesday, employers in the federally-regulated transportation sector, including marine operators of Canadian vessels with a crew of 12 or more, must begin phasing in a mandatory vaccination policy by Oct. 30.

Marshall said the company was reviewing the regulations and “will be discussing these with the BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union (BCFMWU) and other stakeholders to look for solutions that respect the various perspectives on the sensitive topic of mandatory vaccinations.”

BCFMWU president Eric McNeely said the union was reviewing the new federal requirements and would have more to say later in the week.

Read more: B.C. Education Ministry gathering committee to make a decision on vaccine mandates

On Tuesday, the B.C. government announced that all public service employees will require a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 22 to continue working, and on Wednesday Ottawa announced a similar policy for federal employees starting Oct. 29.

B.C. health-care workers and workers in long-term care and assisted living were already facing vaccine mandates.

On Tuesday, the province said it was forming a committee to decide on whether to implement a vaccine mandate on school staff.

As of Tuesday, 88.3 per cent of British Columbians over the age of 12 had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 81.7 per cent had received two doses.

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