Customers using Wightlink’s Portsmouth-Fishbourne route and Red Funnel's East Cowes-Southampton services will have start spending the journey in the passenger lounges or outside sundecks, from today (13).
On Wightlink, everyone over the age of 11 will have to wear face coverings during the journey as this is a legal requirement on public transport.
When Wightlink’s Lymington-Yarmouth route resumes this Friday (17) passengers will also be told to vacate their vehicles after embarkation and spend the crossing in the lounges.
Wightlink Chief Executive, Keith Greenfield, said:
"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.
“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.
"Cafes will be open on most sailings and you’re allowed to take off your face covering to eat and drink."
The transition back to standard vehicle sailings will come in two phases: The first, effective today 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 July 31, with all crossings returning to the original format from August 1, in line with the latest government announcement on shielding guidance ending on July 31.
Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, said:
“With the Government withdrawing its advice to shield from August 1, 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.
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 www.redfunnel.co.uk/SailSafe.