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chi chimaun in harbourThe MS Chi-Cheemaun will begin ferry service for essential transportation only on June 1, 2020 under conditions of Transport Canada Interim Order Respecting Passenger Vessel Restrictions due to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The Federal Minister of Transport has issued an Interim Order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on-board passenger vessels carrying more than 12 passengers, prohibiting operations that are discretionary in nature, such as activities related to tourism and recreation, from operating in Canadian waters until June 30, 2020.

Ferries that provide the most practical means to give passengers access to their domicile or residence or their place of employment, give passengers access to essential goods and services, transport cargo to resupply communities, business or industry, or provide other essential services, are permitted to operate provided the service provider implements strict measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

MS Chi-Cheemaun will therefore begin operating a transportation only service for a limited number of commercial and through travellers beginning on June 1 continuing thru June 30, 2020.

This early service is in support of the many commercial carriers who normally use the ferry to transit between regions of northern and southwestern Ontario, and customers where the ferry is the most practical means of accessing their owned residences. The ferry service also provides an important second point of access to and departure from Manitoulin Island currently served only by the historic single lane wooden swing bridge at Little Current. Ferry service will not be available for passengers engaging in tourism or recreational activities for the duration of the Interim Order.

In addition, all passengers will be required to bring and wear face coverings for the duration of the crossing and must maintain a physical distance of 2 metres between themselves and other passengers and crew while on board.

MS Chi-Cheemaun COVID-19 mitigation measures:
1. Spring sailing schedule will be followed for the duration of the Interim Order.
2. Only Commercial customers and through travellers will be accepted on the vessel for the duration of the Interim Order.
a. “Commercial” is defined as: an essential service provider (hydro, telecommunications, and other), or commercial trucking of goods, livestock or other commodities.
b. “Through Traveller” is defined as: a non-commercial customer who is travelling for an essential purpose.
All other reservations will be cancelled; OSTC will contact all reservation holders to screen for purpose of travel to cancel or re-book as required.
On-line reservations will not be available for the duration of the Interim Order.
Customers must make reservations via telephone to 800-265-3163 and will be screened for purpose of travel.
3. Vehicle capacity may be reduced depending on the number of persons in vehicles.
4. Passenger capacity under the Interim Order cannot exceed 50% of the vessel’s certified capacity. Chi-Cheemaun is permitted to carry up to 300 passengers under the Interim Order but will not exceed 125 passengers per crossing to ensure physical distancing is possible throughout the interior passenger spaces.
5. ALL passengers, walk-on and in-vehicle must make a reservation to ensure the passenger count meets the vessel’s physical distancing requirements.
6. NO passenger will be permitted to remain on the vehicle deck; passengers who refuse to leave their vehicle on the vehicle deck will be banned from all future use of the ferry.
Note: The Transport Canada document issued March 16, 2020 “Measures to create temporary flexibility for ferry operators to allow passengers to remain in their cars on closed deck ferries due to the COVID-19 situation” does not apply to Chi-Cheemaun as there are no measures available that can make persons remaining in a vehicle on the enclosed vehicle deck of this vessel safe.
7. ALL Passengers will be screened in accordance with Transport Canada’s Interim Order Respecting Passenger vessels. Passengers will be asked to answer the following five questions truthfully:
• Do you have a fever and a cough? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, boarding is denied.
• Do you have a fever and breathing difficulty? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, boarding is denied.
• Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, boarding is denied.
• Are you the subject of a provincial/territorial or local public health order? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, boarding is denied.
• Are you in possession of a face covering that covers your mouth and nose, and do you agree to wear this covering for the duration of the crossing? If NO or passenger refuses to answer, boarding is denied.
8. All Passengers are required to bring and wear face coverings for the duration of the crossing and must maintain a physical distance of 2m between themselves and other passengers and crew while on board.
9. NO food, beverage or retail service will be available for passengers.
10. NO food or beverages may be brought on board or consumed by passengers (unless medically required and with prior notification to the ferry operator).
11. Passenger spaces will be cleaned on a more frequent schedule with COVID-19 appropriate products.

source: media release, Owen Sound Transportation Company

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