Guemes Island Ferry service changes due to COVID-19
Guemes Island Ferry revises masking policy per new Federal order
The purpose of this notification is to make riders aware of our revised masking policy and to share a new federal order, effective February 2, that passenger vessel operators must require passengers and crew to wear face masks (over a person’s nose and mouth) to deter the spread of coronavirus and to exert best efforts to obtain compliance. We’ve been requiring masks in accordance with state orders; however, the federal order asks us to be better enforcers of our policy. The USCG has been tasked with enforcing this, and more information can be found at MSIB-02-21-Mask-Requirement.pdf (uscg.mil). Ferry staff is required to be on the lookout, and our directive is to educate and enforce.
As a reminder, our policy is that masks are required to be worn by all riders in public spaces on the terminal and the vessel, which include:
- The public spaces onboard the vessel (including the passenger cabin and car deck)
- All waiting areas (whether indoors and outdoors)
- The vehicle queuing lanes (unless you are in a vehicle with all windows rolled up), terminal parking lots and walkways
- Public restrooms
Basically, masks are required at all times except when customers are in a vehicle with all of the windows rolled up. In any other situation, they are required; even if you are outside and can maintain physical distancing. When you are purchasing a ticket from our Purser from your vehicle, masks are required.
Passenger vessel operators are required to use best efforts to ensure that any person riding the ferry wears a mask when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel. Masks are also required in all areas at transportation hubs.
Best efforts include:
- Boarding only those persons wearing masks;
- Instructing persons that Federal law requires wearing a mask and that failure to comply constitutes a violation of Federal law;
- Monitoring persons for anyone who is not wearing a mask and seeking compliance from such persons;
- At the earliest opportunity, removing or disembarking any person who refuses to comply; and
- Providing persons with prominent and adequate notice to facilitate awareness and compliance of the requirement of this order to wear a mask (e.g. signage, website and email notices).
The requirement to wear a mask shall not apply under the following circumstances:
- While eating, drinking or taking medication, for brief periods;
- While communicating with a person who is hearing impaired when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
- If unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove mask without assistance; or
- When necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement official.
The federal order exempts the following categories of persons:
- A child under the age of 2 years;
- A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (U.S.C. 12101 et seq.).
- A person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations.
If you qualify for an exemption under this order, it is your responsibility to make the ferry crew aware. If you cannot wear a mask, we ask that you maintain physical distancing of at least 6’ at all times from other passengers and crew. If you would like to inquire in advance about accommodations, please call our ferry office, at (360) 293-6433 or the Ferry Division Manager, Rachel Rowe, at (360) 416-1466.
Here are some things you need to know.
Using a punch card is the fastest and safest way to pay your fare and they offer a significant discount. Additionally, punch cards can be purchased through the mail using our online form requiring no physical contact with our Purser. See the Punch Card Page for phone, email or mail order options. Punch cards are also available for purchase at the ferry terminal. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are allowing riders to self-validate (in front of the Purser) punch cards with your own sharpie, standard pen or hole puncher.
All punch cards can be used during the peak or non-peak season. Note: the 10-trip vehicle & driver or 10-trip vehicle & senior/disabled driver punch card can be used any time peak or non-peak too (even the card says “cannot be used during peak season”). That is one of the changes we made in response to COVID-19 in an effort to promote the use of punch cards. In addition, the 10-trip punch cards currently do not expire.
Credit/debit card transactions can be conducted at your vehicle if you are driving on. We accept all major credit cards except American Express. We ask that you only roll down your window just enough to insert/swipe your own card in our machine. We have asked our Pursers not to handle customers’ credit cards. We are temporarily waiving signatures on all credit/debit card transactions, and you can opt out of a receipt. If you are walking on, we ask that you maintain as much physical distance as possible from other riders at all times.
If you are concerned about riding the ferry or purchasing tickets, we strongly recommend:
- Using disposable gloves and properly dispose of them after your ticket transaction;
- Wiping your credit/debit card with an alcohol swab or other disinfecting wipe before and after use; and
- Letting the ferry crew know you do not want a paper ticket.