Maria Weisgarber
Multiqued Journalist, CTV News Vancouver

@ctv_mariaw
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VANCOUVER –
While indoor dining is currently prohibited in B. In restaurants and food courts, passengers on board a BC Ferries sailing can still eat inside in the ship’s cafeteria

Ship cafeterias are exempt from the latest part of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions This prompts the ferry workers union to renew its call for BC Ferries staff to be prioritized for early vaccinations

“It was an absolute shock to find out that we were still serving meals on board our voyages,” said Brian Lallihe, provincial treasurer of the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union

Lallihe said the resulting risk of COVID-19 exposure is another reason ferry crews should be involved in vaccinating key workers

Lallihe said the fact that customers can still eat indoors without a mask increases the risk of COVID-19

The long Easter weekend is busier than usual, if not as crowded as before the pandemic

According to Lallihe, ferry crews should be involved in vaccinating key workers. “Our members have worked during this pandemic, delivering essential goods and services to the small communities, in close contact with the public and with one another Therefore we absolutely need to be vaccinated ”

BC Ferries’ director of public affairs, Deborah Marshall, said the provincial health officer has confirmed that their cafeterias “can remain open for take-out” “

They can then have their meals and eat them in the cafeteria, on the outside deck, or in their car

Marshall said there is limited seating inside so passengers will be encouraged to eat outside or in their vehicle if parked on the upper car deck

Regarding vaccinations, Marshall said some ferry workers have already received a shot, those who work in Horseshoe Bay and the north route have been vaccinated on the job after a string of COVID-19 cases, and she says the company is in Talks with the province about vaccinating the rest of the workers

“We continue to have this discussion with the province. We know it is a great challenge for them because there are many competing interests,” she said

Marshall said over the Easter weekend that the number of passengers on the main routes had decreased by 63 percent and vehicle traffic by 46 percent compared to 2019, even though commercial traffic had increased

In an email to CTV News Vancouver, the Department of Health announced that ferry cafeterias are exempt from ordering as some crossings “take a long time” and keeping cafeterias and their available seating open helps reduce overcrowding in other parts of the world To prevent ferries

They said they will also review their key workers’ vaccination registers based on the latest data and incoming vaccine supplies

“More details on the industries and sectors prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination will be available in the coming days and weeks,” the ministry said

BC Ferries ship The Queen of Oak Bay is pictured in Spring 2019 (Pete Cline / CTV News Vancouver)

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Source: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/indoor-dining-still-allowed-on-bc-ferries-workers-say-that-puts-them-at-increased-risk-1.5377211