Red Funnel and Wightlink are both reverting back to passengers having to vacate their vehicles during cross-Solent sailings. Full details from each ferry company below. Ed
From Monday 13th July 2020, all customers on Wightlink’s Portsmouth-Fishbourne route will be asked to leave their vehicles after embarkation and spend the journey in the passenger lounges or outside sundecks.
Everyone over the age of 11 will have to wear face coverings during the journey as this is a legal requirement on public transport.
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says:
“We made the decision to ask customers to vacate their vehicles because our spacious passenger lounges are the safest and most comfortable places for people to stay during their crossing.
“More people are now crossing the Solent with Wightlink following the Government’s relaxation of non-essential travel and need to use the lounge facilities onboard.
“Wightlink has operated ferries on the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route throughout the pandemic and staff have extensive experience in operating safely. There is plenty of room in our lounges for customers to find a place to sit while keeping a social distance from other people. Cafés will be open on most sailings and you’re allowed to take off your face covering to eat and drink.
“Ships are cleaned frequently and to high standards, hand sanitisers are available and there are facilities for customers to wash their hands in all internal passenger lounges.”
The agreement with Wightlink’s regulator, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, to allow people to stay in their cars was made on a temporary basis, and on account of low passenger numbers at the beginning of the pandemic.
This has now changed. When Wightlink’s Lymington-Yarmouth route resumes on Friday 17 July, passengers will also vacate their vehicles after embarkation and spend the crossing in the lounges.
As capacity on board Wightlink’s ships has been reduced to allow social distancing, foot passengers must book their tickets online in advance if they want to be sure of travelling on their chosen sailing.
For more information visit the Website.
Red Funnel updates customers on changes to its ‘stay in vehicle’ sailings
Red Funnel has provided advance notice to its customers that it will be transitioning all sailings back to their usual format, whereby every passenger on board will need to vacate their vehicles and ascend to the designated passenger decks.
Red Funnel worked with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in March to temporarily allow passengers to remain in vehicles on select crossings, in order to protect those passengers who were shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The transition back to standard vehicle sailings will come in two phases: The first, effective Monday, 13 July will see the 15:00 departure from Southampton and the 16:30 departure from East Cowes revert to standard crossings, no longer operating as ‘stay in vehicle’ sailings. The 21:00 departure from Southampton and 22:30 departure from East Cowes will remain as ‘stay in vehicle’ sailings until 31 July, with all crossings returning to the original format from 1 August 2020, in line with the latest government announcement on shielding guidance ending on 31 July 2020.
Red Funnel has consistently ensured its operations and travel guidance are in line with the latest government and public health recommendations. The latest change from Red Funnel coincides with the further relaxation of lockdown restrictions and the opening of industries, in addition to the COVID-19 incident level moving from a level 4 to level 3 and the continued reduction of the ‘R’ rate (infection rate). Red Funnel has also obtained the UK-wide industry standard “We’re Good to Go” mark from Visit England. The mark shows that Red Funnel is adhering to government and Public Health England guidelines and that it has robust COVID-19 risk assessments and clear processes to keep customers safe.
Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel commented:
“With the government withdrawing its advice to shield from 1 August 2020, now is the right time for us to make changes to our ‘stay in vehicle’ crossings and move closer to resuming our usual operations.
“We hope that by giving customers as much notice as possible this will benefit our passengers and prepare them for the changes.
“We have put a lot of measures in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our passengers, including reducing our overall capacity to enable social distancing.
“We want to emphasise that passengers should feel safe to travel on our ferries and we have all of the provisions in place to welcome them back on board safely.”
Travelling to or from an NHS appointment
Red Funnel will continue to offer assistance to extremely vulnerable passengers to remain in their vehicle if they are travelling to or from an NHS appointment.
For more information about this option and how to request it, customers should visit visit the Website.