Measures to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19 on Passenger Vessels and Ferries - SSB No.: 10/2020

This bulletin 10/2020 has been replaced by Ship Safety Bulletin 12/2020

RDIMS No .: 16388499
Date (Y-M-D) : 2020-04-04

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This bulletin outlines measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on board passenger vessels and ferries. These practices must be implemented by passenger vessels and ferries that are allowed to operate, under restrictions, during the pandemic.


This bulletin applies to Essential Passenger Vessels:

  • vessels carrying more than 12 passengers and that are performing essential servicesFootnote 1; and
  • ferry vesselsFootnote 2.


Under restrictions set by Transport Canada to reduce the spread of COVID-19, all vessels that carry more than 12 passengers are prohibited from operating, unless they provide essential services or are ferry vessels.

Essential Passenger Vessels may continue to operate provided they:

  • make reasonable efforts to implement and put in place measures to prevent the spread of COVID 19 in Transport Canada publication COVID-19: Guidance Material for Essential Passenger Vessel and Ferry Operators, including notifying passengers before boarding that they may be subject to a health check;

    They must also:

  • immediately reduce by 50% the maximum number of passengers that may be carried on board (conduct half-load voyages); OR
  • if no reduction in passengers, implement alternative practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as set out in this bulletin (consistent with Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines) among passengers on board their vessels.

Measures to reduce transmission risk

For all Essential Passenger Vessels who do not reduce passenger load by 50%, the operator will need to demonstrate and confirm with Transport Canada (via email to the Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) Secretariat at that appropriate mitigation measures are in place, based on the most recent advice provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada, such as:

  • requesting that passengers stay in their vehicles for the duration of the transit, where practicable;
  • encouraging passengers to wash their hands before boarding the vessel;
  • ensuring there are facilities to allow all passengers and crew to wash their hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds;
  • ensuring there is alcohol-based hand sanitizer (or equivalent) available to all passengers and crew;
  • enforcing mandatory physical distancing for all passengers on board (e.g., by eliminating entertainment events and anything else that would impact a 2 metre between passenger distancing rule);
  • putting in place immediate reporting and mandatory isolation of anyone showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or fever equal to or greater than 38°C, or signs of fever, e.g., shivering, flushed skin, excessive sweating). In the case of overnight vessels, at least 20% of their capacity must be carried as empty berths to allow for isolation;
  • eliminating all prepared meals, buffets, restaurants and canteens;
  • eliminating the practice of “hot bunking”, where more than one crew member is assigned to a single bunk;
  • working with terminal operators to provide additional space for walk-on passengers waiting to embark/disembark; and
  • increasing medical capacity where practical (e.g., for those vessels that regularly carry medical staff, this would mean increasing the number of medical staff on board).

Passenger Announcements:

In addition to the requirements under the Ministerial Interim Order, Transport Canada is requesting that the crew of a passenger vessel or ferry vessel read out the announcement provided in Annex A before boarding, and the message provided in Annex B once passengers are on-board the vessel. Where this is not feasible, the operator should post equivalent signage.

Annex A: Pre-boarding announcement

In order to manage the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada, along with the provinces and territories have put in place recommended practices.

Prior to boarding this vessel you may be requested to undergo a health check. This will involve answering a few simple questions to which you must answer truthfully.

When arriving at your destination, you may be subject to further measures taken by the municipal, provincial or territorial government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As a reminder, no person should board a vessel when they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while on-board, please notify the vessel crew immediately.

Annex B: On-board announcement

In light of the global pandemic related to COVID-19, the Government of Canada, in cooperation with provincial/territorial public health authorities, has put in place important measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Please be advised that many provinces and territories are asking travelers, with some exceptions for essential services, to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Travelers are reminded to stay informed about COVID-19 measures that apply in the region where they are heading, and obtain updates from their national, provincial and territorial health authorities.


1. Coronavirus
2. Passenger
3. Alternative practices

Questions concerning this Bulletin should be addressed to:

Transport Canada
Marine Safety and Security
Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

Contact us at: Email: or Telephone: 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).