“Three men of different nationalities sleep in one cabin (…) altogether, in the canteen all together, there is nowhere to sit, you go home, you don’t know if you are infected or healthy (…),” this is how one truck driver wrote about the situation on ferries a few days ago on Facebook. The problem of overcrowded cabins was also highlighted by, e.g., Iwona Blecharczyk. We asked ferry operators what they do to improve the safety of truck drivers.
As it turns out, there are many changes. Agnieszka Zembrzycka, Stena Line spokesperson, assures that the company implements “all sanitary and epidemiological recommendations of the state services”, as well as “its own internal safety procedures, including additional hygienic recommendations”. Among the preventive measures introduced, she lists the following:
– (…) an obligation to have a cabin seat for each passenger on both day and night cruises. Stena Line encourages travellers to stay in their cabin throughout the entire cruise until they reach port.
– Most of the facilities on the ships are closed, only those that are necessary for passengers during the 10-hour journey are left open: a shop and a restaurant.
– We only allow a limited number of people to enter the restaurant and shop at the same time to allow for proper separation. We also observe the appropriate distance between tables and in queues.
– In freight traffic, where possible, we have introduced electronic document circulation.
In addition, entry to the restaurant is only possible after disinfecting hands with the agents made available by the shipowner. Passengers are encouraged to make contactless card payments.
Stena Line has also increased “the frequency of preventive cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, especially the so-called contact points, i.e. the most frequently touched areas: handles, buttons in lifts, handrails, etc.” And the ferry crew undergoes body temperature measurement every day.
A number of preventive measures have also been introduced on ferries owned by Unity Line. As Katarzyna Antoń, head of marketing department informs, each truck driver is obliged to report to the shipowner’s check-in office with a completed declaration of cargo stowage and lashing.
We allow the forwarder to complete the declaration. Electronic declaration will only be accepted if all fields are filled in correctly. In the subject line of the message, vehicle registration numbers should be entered,” explains Katarzyna Antoń.
Unity Line has also limited the number of people staying in the waiting room for drivers. There can be a maximum of 4 people in it. The rest of drivers are asked to line up in front of the office.
The shipowner also checks the body temperature of passengers before boarding the ferry and collects the completed information sheets from them, which they then pass on to the relevant border and sanitary services.
The number of drivers and passengers staying in the restaurants at the same time has been reduced to a maximum of 45 people, and they are seated at appropriate distances.
Unity Line has also introduced a take-away system with special, wrapped packaging in some catering outlets. In addition, the number of people shopping in on-board stores has been reduced and the frequency of disinfection of smooth surfaces and common areas has increased.
Containers of hand disinfectants have been distributed in various places, as well as announcements about protective measures against Covid-19 and a ban on gatherings,” adds Katarzyna Antoń.
We also read that “where possible, drivers and passengers will be placed in cabins individually or in smaller groups, after paying the fare and the cabin fee, and freight forwarders are asked to make reservations in advance for drivers with an informed choice of our lines and to inform their drivers about the rules currently in force”. From 31 March 2020, passengers are also obliged to “book a cabin for a trip to/from Sweden”.