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COVID-19: Maritime and Coastguard Agency Issues "Unprecedented Exemption" for Car Ferry

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

March 18, 2020

Photo: Red Funnel

Photo: Red Funnel

MCA grants temporary ability for Red Funnel passengers to remain in vehicles on select crossings

Red Funnel worked with the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to identify exceptional solutions to support the government’s social distancing guidance in response to COVID-19 and respond to passengers’ requests to remain in vehicles during crossings.

“We’d like to thank the MCA for working with us to identify solutions to allow our passengers this option during this exceptional time," said Fran Collins, CEO, Red Funnel. "Many of our customers have been in touch in recent weeks to request that this option be available and while we empathized with their requests we were legally unable to oblige until now. The MCA’s decision to provide a temporary exemption to this aspect of the safety code which applies to our operation is unprecedented and required a great deal of cooperation and lateral thinking from all parties. I’m very pleased that we are now able to provide a solution to our customers and thank our customers for their patience as we seek to adapt our operation as quickly and efficiently as we can.”

While safety legislation requires passengers to vacate vehicle decks for the duration of the crossing, Red Funnel reports that from March 19 it will operate a number of special “vehicle deck only” crossings, whereby the main passenger accommodation areas will be closed, and passengers must remain in their vehicles.

This “all or nothing” solution requiring all passengers to remain in vehicles is rooted in ensuring that robust safety, fire control and evacuation procedures can be maintained. A number of additional passenger safety and operational controls are also required to allow this exceptional and unprecedented exemption, and instructions will be clearly communicated to passengers prior to boarding.

Until further notice, the following vehicle ferry crossings will be restricted to “vehicle deck only” at this time, with other services operating normally:• 

  • Departing Southampton: 18:00, 21:00
  • Departing East Cowes: 19:30, 22:30
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