The Francois Lake Ferry is running on time, with no threat of shutting down it’s operations yet. Ron Van Tine, marine manager with WaterBridge Ferries, the company that runs the ferry, says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure considers them an essential service, which means they’re service (and jobs of employees) should be safe from closure.
“We’re going to continue sailing as long as we possibly can. That’s our directive from the Ministry, is to keep our regular scheduled sailings as long as possible. And the only way we couldn’t do that is if staffing became such an issue that we couldn’t put together a crew,” said Van Tine.
Van Tine said the staffing issues would come only if too many people were too worried about catching COVID-19 to come to work, or if they actually caught it and were off sick. And they could also potentially be self-isolating because of showing symptoms, being in contact with someone who has the disease, or travelling recently, he added.
According to a post from March 23 on the Facebook page for the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, they advised their passengers to remain inside their vehicles during sailing. Crews are taking extra steps to disinfect all touch points including handrails, door handles, common areas and washrooms.
For those travelling on foot, or by bicycle or motorcycle, we recommend that you maintain a distance of two-metres/six feet between you and other passengers.
Please follow the direction of crew members at all times. #COVID19BC
And they also said in a later Facebook post, that the washrooms on the Francois Forester will be closed “to help stop the spread of COVID-19.” Apologies were extended to passengers from the Ministry, but they reaffirmed it was for public safety. The Northside and Southside terminal washrooms will be opened from 5:50a.m. to 10:50p.m., they wrote.
“We’re a pretty vital link to the Southside, so everybody over there would have to drive around,” said Van Tine, of the impact if the ferry was forced to stop running. “It would add a couple hours to every trip, especially this time of year. It would be a pretty serious impact,” he said.