Alaska ferries are taking precautions to allow safer travel for passengers
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is taking steps to ensure that passengers are able to travel safely aboard its ferries.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT), which runs the marine highway system, noted that enhanced COVID-19 mitigation protocols were being instituted on its vessels.
These protocols include reminders to both passengers and employees to practice good hygiene and social distancing.
“It’s to allow people to have space aboard ship,” says Sam Dapcevich, Communication Officer with DOT, “So that services aboard ship like the cafeteria won’t get too crowded. It’s just to keep that social distancing possible.”
Although it is not required, DOT also strongly recommends wearing a face covering, such as a mask.
Additionally, each vessel will
only take on 1/3 of its regular passenger capacity.
“Because of these capacity reductions, it is very important that our customers make their travel plans in advance if they can,” says Dapcevich. “That will ensure that you don’t get turned away at a terminal.”
Dapcevich adds that depending on how well these capacity restrictions maintain the safety of passengers, they could be expanded or reduced at a later date.
Other protocols include a health screening form which passengers
complete before boarding. The screening form, available at the AMHS website, includes questions regarding recent travel and health status. People with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or those that have been in contact with an infected person will not be allowed to board the ferries. AMHS staff will also be monitoring passenger health.
The ferry system had experienced an extremely moderate demand for service, but as restrictions on travel begin to ease, demand is starting to increase.
“I believe Hoonah and Angoon had very strict travel restrictions, so we had freight and vehicles going back and forth but very little passenger traffic,” Dapcevich says. “Some of those restrictions have been lifted, so demand is starting to pick up again.”
Passengers wishing to board the ferries can find more information at http://ferryalaska.com, or by calling the reservations center at (800)-642-0066.