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It is ‘a mistake’ for ferry companies to stop allowing most passengers to stay in their vehicles during the crossing, according to an Isle of Wight Council member.

During the coronavirus lockdown, the Maritime and Coastguard Authority relaxed laws to allow, on some voyages, anybody travelling on one Red Funnel’s or Wightlink’s car ferries, to stay in their cars. However, ferry companies have now changed restrictions to make passengers go to the designated lounges for the duration of the crossing.

Cllr Richard Hollis, ward representative for Newport West, said he was confused that the restrictions had been changed and called it a mistake.

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At a meeting of the council’s policy and scrutiny committee for health and social care, Cllr Hollis said:

“I read that no one is going to be allowed to stay in their cars on the ferries — I would have thought the ferries were the worst places for passing on infection.

“Everyone has to go up and down the stairs, for a start, you are all handling the rails. I would have thought it would even be for peace of mind that people could stay in their cars.”

Cllr Hollis asked if the director of public health on the Island, Simon Bryant, had any influence on the ferry companies, that he could get them to change their minds, “because I think this is a mistake,” he said.

Mr Bryant said the council had been working very closely with the travel providers to support the pandemic response but he was not privy to the laws that meant people would have to leave their cars.

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“I can leave the ferry companies to work out their rationale but we are working very hard to make sure there is really good hygiene on there and people are following the social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread.”

Cllr John Nicholson, chair of the committee, said it would be something they could follow-up with the ferry companies.

Last week, Wightlink chief executive Keith Greenfield said they had made the decision to ask customers to vacate their vehicles because the lounges had enough space to socially distance and are the safest, most comfortable places for people to stay during their crossing.

Red Funnel has also advised customers it would go back to the usual way its sailings operated pre-COVID 19, although there would still be 2 sailings where passengers could stay in their vehicles at night and a special exemption could be made for extremely vulnerable passengers travelling for NHS appointments.

Fran Collins, chief executive 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.”

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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I would think this has a lot to do with making money from food and drink sales.

Silver lining

All about money

Just Sayin’

Absolutely spot on.

isla wight

need more money in those food and drink tills.


Spot on

Joe Bloggs

Came back from Pompey on the 11.59 Ferry last night. No food and drink available.

Sue Woodroffe

Wightlink should allow pensioners over 70 to stay in their car if they wish to do so. There are plenty of us who have not been near a shop and do not intend to go inside any ENCLOSED area including ferry lounges etc.especially so since the latest news bulletins about the risks of enclosed areas.Not allowing us to stay our cars on the ferry effectively means us PRISONERS on the IOW


We should be given the option to either stay in our car go up stairs….so if us want to protect ourselves where as some don’t care….let us make that choice we are the 1s paying to use the ferry

Karn Evil 9

For once I agree with the council, visitors at best should not be coming here yet, but if they have to, for christ sake make them stay in vehicles. Makes sense. Ferry companies holding the island to ransom yet again. They would very quickly stop US going to the mainland if a second spike was to happen here, and it surely will.


Mistake giving Wight link the contract anyway.



Joe Bloggs

I think it is ridiculous forcing people into the lounges during the crisis even with a mask. You are far more likely to die from the virus rather than the ferry sinking.


Don’t pay the ferry man till he gets you to the other side.

John Emes

How many of you have social gathered or shopped without cleaning your hands before and after, picking something up on a shelf then putting it back down again? Its not as if they are asking you to congregate in a mass group! In an emergency its SO much safer for the crews to react with people in lounges than in individual vehicles. Stop bashing the ferries who have kept the island supplied during all this for every single little thing!


Yes they certainly kept us supplied, mainly with second home owners, all they had to say was we are having maintenance problems and Wightlink let them on . No Fastcat shows they are only interested in money, and not lslanders


Congratulations for the most stupid comment so far !


How stupid to force people out of the safe environment of their vehicle into a potential harmful environment , with all the rubbish about plenty of room to social distance. Ferries are probably the most likely places it will spread, due to the way people move around, and air flow up the stairs spreading any bugs all around, everyone holding the stair rails, many using the loos. Are ferry people going to be following you around wiping everything down as they are supposed to be doing in pubs, I think not.


Please let us have the option! I certainly will not be travelling and lots of my family will just stay off and on the Island..

Jay J

I was about to go to the mainland and trade in my car as I thought it was just worth the risk if allowed to stay in my vehicle. Not now. No way I’m trolling up stairs and round passenger lounges with a bunch of Covidiots, at least 50% of whom think mask wearing and hygiene is a load of rubbish. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t dent numbers using the ferries in terms of tourists coming here also – why risk being forced to congregate in large numbers when you can go elsewhere in the U.K., or even to… Read more »


Wealth before health again .!!!!me and my wife both in our 70s IOW residents have been looking forward to seeing our family after self isolation for maths ,and now we have to risk all because of greed by Wightlink


Having travelled on Red Funnel yesterday, I am so glad to get out of my car, yes you have to hold onto surfaces going up the stairs but at the top there is hand gel to use, hand gel in a number of places around the ship, facemasks on, (I carry my own hand gel anyway attached to my bag). Limited food & drink was available and only as a takeaway, this can only be consumed on the outer deck, seating is labelled so you cannot use certain seats unless you are family group, I felt more safer than going… Read more »


I travelled back from IOW on Tuesday, and there were plenty of passengers who were stood outside where I was, who had pulled their masks down under their chin or who had their nose uncovered!! There’s too many ignorant passengers can’t follow a simple rule and keep their masks on at all times!


I would love to go to the mainland just to sit in the garden with my brother who has cancer, red funnel has 2 sailing where one can stay in ones car. 21:00 from the Iow and one at 22:30 from Southampton means we have to stay on the mainland can’t just go a few hours. Come on ferry company fight for Iow residents


We travelled on Wightlink yesterday. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful or understanding. We were allowed to stay in our car both ways.


How did you mange that.? I want to go for the day, but not to expose myselk


Lets hope that will continue. Both ferry companies are made tolerable only because of the staff. Can not fault them. It’s the people running the companies that are the ones that do not care.


If there was a fixed link would not be having the conservation.

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