Multipurpose Journalist, CTV News Vancouver
While indoor dining is currently prohibited in BC restaurants and food courts, passengers aboard a BC Ferries boat can still eat indoors in the ship’s cafeteria
Ship cafeterias exempt from the latest part of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions, leading the ferry union to renew its call for BC Ferries staff to be prioritized for early vaccines
“It was an absolute shock to find out that we always served meals on board our cruises,” said Brian Lallihe, Provincial Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union.
Lallihe said the resulting risk of exposure to COVID-19 is another reason ferry crews should be included in the vaccination rollout for essential workers
Lallihe said the fact that customers can still eat inside, without masks, puts ferry workers at increased risk of COVID-19
The Easter long weekend was busier than usual, he said, but not as busy as pre-pandemic levels
Lallihe says ferry crews should be included in the deployment of vaccination for essential workers “Our members have worked throughout this pandemic, providing essential goods and services to small communities, in close contact with the public and with each other, and therefore, we absolutely need to be vaccinated”
BC Ferries director of public affairs Deborah Marshall said the provincial health officer had confirmed their cafeterias could remain open “for take out service”
They can then take their meals and eat them in the cafeteria, on the outdoor terrace or in their car
Marshall said seats available inside are limited, so passengers are encouraged to eat outside or in their vehicle if parked on the upper deck
Regarding vaccinations, Marshall said some ferry workers have already been shot Those who work in Horseshoe Bay and on the northern route have been vaccinated following a string of COVID-19 cases at the workplace, and she says the company is in talks with the province to vaccinate the rest of the workers
“We continue to have this discussion with the province. We know it’s very difficult for them because there are a lot of competing interests,” she said
Marshall said over the Easter weekend, passenger volume on major roads fell by around 63% and vehicle traffic by around 46% compared to 2019, although commercial traffic increased.
In an email to CTV News Vancouver, the Department of Health said ferry cafeterias were exempt from the order because some crossings take “a long time” and keeping cafeterias and their available seats open. helps prevent overcrowding inside other parts of ferries
They said they would also review their essential worker immunization list based on the latest data and the incoming vaccine supply.
“More details on priority industries and sectors for COVID-19 vaccination will be available in the days and weeks to come,” the ministry said.
BC Ferries’ ship, the Queen of Oak Bay, pictured in Spring 2019 (Pete Cline / CTV News Vancouver)
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World news – CA – Indoor dining still allowed on BC Ferries, workers say puts them at increased risk