Unlike passengers on B.C. Ferries, those riding the Victoria Clipper must remain masked when not eating or sipping

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      Today for the first time since last October, passengers onboard the Victoria Clipper disembarked in the B.C. capital.

      And unlike many passengers on B.C. Ferries, these people coming from Seattle were wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

      That's because a U.S. Coast Guard regulation requires that all guests onboard the Victoria Clipper to wear a mask onboard except when sipping or eating or standing on outside viewing decks.

      B.C. Ferries, on the other hand, has refused to introduce an indoor mask mandate on its vessels.

      As an employer, B.C. Ferries has authority to do this but has chosen not to after Dr. Bonnie Henry lifted the provincewide indoor mask mandate.

      B.C. Ferries staffing shortages 

      On March 25, B.C. Ferries warned the public to expect "crewing challenges" during the peak summer season.

      "Higher than expected retirements in key shipboard positions, the impact of vaccination policies and difficulties recruiting international candidates due to COVID-19, as well as the 25-year global shortage of professional mariners are expected to pose ongoing challenges to hiring sufficient employees for what is expected to be a busier than usual peak summer season," the Crown-owned company stated.

      "Adding to crewing challenges are changing travel patterns coming out of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement continued. "The spring and fall have become busier as people seek to travel following two years of restrictions while avoiding the traditional peak summer season. The flow of travellers off Vancouver Island in slow travel periods is also an emerging trend."