We recommend that all* passengers wear a face-mask, or other form of face covering, in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing in our ports and onboard our ships. This applies to all routes on the Irish Sea and North Sea, from commencement of the journey to its termination and applies whenever passengers are within a port terminal building or onboard a Stena Line vessel. Face coverings are mandatory when our vessels are in English or French territorial waters. We recommend that all passengers adhere to government advice. This is a safety measure to combat the spread of COVID-19 with the aim of reassuring passengers about ferry travel and ensure it is seen as safe mode of transport. The Stena Line team will wear face coverings, or visors, in situations onboard, and at ports, where practising social distancing is difficult or where protective screens aren’t an option. The safety of passengers and crew is a priority. It is one of many measures we have implemented on our vessels to combat COVID-19.
* Children under the age of eleven and individuals with a breathing condition, illness or disability that prevents or hinders them from wearing a face covering are exempt from this recommendation.
Please note that only essential travel, as defined by the UK, Ireland, France and Netherlands governments, is currently permitted.
Further questions and answers regarding facemasks:-
When did the new recommendation come into force?
Stena Line implemented a recommendation that face coverings be worn by all passengers on the Irish Sea and North Sea from 15th June, to coincide with UK government rules coming into force that makes them mandatory in English territorial waters. A similar rule has been in place by France since 11th May.
What Stena Line routes does this recommendation apply to?
Face coverings are recommended to be worn by all passengers on all routes on the Irish and North Sea, including our service to France.
Why is Stena Line implementing recommending face coverings be worn?
Based on government advice, we have added this recommendation to our already extensive COVID-19 safety measures, which are intended to safeguard both the health of our passengers and crew and to ensure maximum safety whilst travelling by ferry.
Why are Stena Line requesting face coverings be worn when only England and France has indicated that they are mandatory when travelling on ferries?
The rules currently vary from state to state. Some authorities have made them mandatory while others recommend them. We would like to apply the same standards of care and safety to all our routes to and from the UK, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands and France. We also are reminding passengers that they are mandatory when onboard ships in English and French ports and territorial waters.
Should I wear a mask or will other types of face coverings work?
Passengers do not have to wear medical grade face masks. Homemade coverings or other types of face coverings are fine as long as they cover both mouth and nose e.g. a bandana or scarf. Follow Irish government advice at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings/
When should I wear a face covering?
Stena Line recommends face coverings are worn whenever you are onboard our vessels or in our terminals, wherever social distancing isn’t possible. Examples include: embarkation and disembarkation, when queuing, or when moving around in enclosed spaces, such as stairs or corridors.
What social distancing measures are Stena Line applying?
2m applies on all vessels based on government advice from the UK and Ireland.
If Stena Line are applying social distancing then why are you recommending face coverings as well?
By combining face coverings and social distancing we aim to make ferry travel as safe as possible for our customers. When our vessels are outside of English and French territorial waters we are recommending that face coverings be worn in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing in ports and onboard ships.
How will I eat or drink?
Passengers do not need to wear a face covering when eating or drinking as long as social distancing is adhered to. We recommend passengers should put their face coverings back on when moving about the restaurant and once they have finished their meal.
What about smoking?
Stena Line vessels have designated smoking areas on the external decks of the ship. Passengers will not be recommended to wear face coverings when smoking in these areas. However, face masks must are recommended be worn when walking to and from designated smoking areas.
Who is exempt from wearing masks?
Children under the age of eleven and individuals with a breathing condition, illness or disability that prevents or hinders them from wearing a face covering are exempt from this recommendation.
How long will this recommendation be in place?
The recommendation to wear face coverings will remain in place until further notice and will be reviewed as Government advice relating to the wearing of masks changes.
Is there a link to the UK government guidance?
This is a UK rule, will I have to wear a face covering when embarking in other countries e.g. Republic of Ireland or the Netherlands?
The wearing of face masks is recommended whilst travelling through our ports and on our ships. It applies to all our routes on the Irish Sea and North Sea. If passengers board our vessels in Ireland or the Netherlands then they are requested to wear a face covering. While face coverings are only mandatory to be worn in English and French territorial waters, we are recommending that they are worn during all of the crossing in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing in ports and onboard ships.
Do face coverings need to be worn in the Terminal?
Yes, passengers are requested to wear them whenever they are in a Stena Line building or ferry.
Do face coverings need to be worn on a Stena Line bus?
Yes, we recommend face coverings are worn whilst onboard any transfer bus to and from the ferry.
Do face coverings need to be worn on the walkway to the ferry?
Yes, we are requesting that face coverings be worn whilst walking to and from the ferry.
Will Stena Line be selling face masks at check-in and onboard?
Yes we will be selling face masks for our customers at check-in and onboard our vessels at a cost of €1/£1
Why are you following UK rules out of the Republic of Ireland?
There are a number of reasons for this. The UK government is the first country in which we operate that requires face coverings to be worn on all public transport in England and on ferries, which would affect a number of our routes. In order to save confusion for customers we want to be as clear and simple with the rules as possible and also given the seriousness of the situation we want to take a cautious approach, at least to begin with. So we have decided to adopt the UK rules on all our routes in the Irish Sea and North Sea. Also, most of our vessels sail under UK flags, therefore, UK laws and regulations apply to them. We are hoping this will avoid confusion and a possible situation where one rule could apply leaving one country and another rule apply when arriving into another country.
Why are you asking children under 11 to wear face coverings when the Irish Government say they are not suitable for children under 13?
Advice is currently differing from country to country, so we needed to follow one model and felt taking a precautionary approach was best. The UK government has stated that children under 11 should not wear them and because we are applying UK regulations then this rule applies on our ferries. Advice from all governments is currently subject to change, so if the advice in the UK changes then we will also change our rules.
Why are well allowed to remove face coverings and eat, drink or smoke?
The UK government advice relates to the need for face coverings to be worn at all times on public transport, including ferries. However, we appreciate that given the length of a ferry journey this may be difficult for our customers to adhere to and they may want to eat, drink or smoke. Therefore, we are making an allowance in these circumstances and as long as social distancing is adhered to and that face coverings are applied again as soon as eating, drink or smoking is finished. Please note that this applies to anywhere on the vessel, not just in our restaurants or cafes, and this allowance includes passengers who bring their own food and drink.
Will Stena Line crew be wearing face coverings?
All our staff will have face protection when interacting with passengers and social distancing is difficult. They will either be wearing face masks or visors. Sometimes they will be behind Perspex screens, such as at check-in or in our shops (when they reopen).
What about deaf people who need to lip-read?
The government guidance didn’t specifically mention lip-reading, but this should not be of concern to members of the deaf community who are travelling on our ferries. If someone is deaf then they just need to let our staff know and, as long as social distancing is in place, they have been informed that they can remove their masks so that any deaf passengers can read their lips.
How will you decide if someone has a breathing disability? Will they need to bring a doctor’s note with them or any other kind of proof?
In line with official guidance, those passengers that have a breathing disability or any kind of disability the prevents them from wearing a face covering are not requested to wear them. You will not need to bring a doctor’s letter with you and our staff with accept our passengers' word and trust they are doing the right thing.
Is it correct that face masks do not block the COVID-19 virus when airborne and can to lead to further complications?
Face coverings combined with social distancing, give an added layer of protection from the virus and are recommended for us in public by the World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/advice-on-the-use-of-masks-in-the-community-during-home-care-and-in-healthcare-settings-in-the-context-of-the-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov)-outbreak
Does wearing face masks cause hypoxia/lead to reduced oxygen levels and increased levels of CO2?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the use of face coverings to combat the spread of COVID-19. They WHO has also been working to dispel some of the misunderstandings around face masks indicating that they do not cause hypoxia, which is reduced oxygen levels and nor do they increase levels of CO2. The WHO’s own website has a ‘myth-busters’ page with graphic that confirms this.
Is it against the law the make people wear face masks?
At present we are recommending that passengers wear face coverings. However, on the 4th June the UK government announced that it is mandatory in England that face coverings are to be worn on public transport, where social distancing cannot be achieved. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face-coverings-to-become-mandatory-on-public-transport
Are the UK rules currently subject to a legal challenge on the basis of human rights?
We are not aware of legal issues and cannot comment on them. We have to adhere to current rules on face masks set out by the authorities. Should that change in the future, due to either a legal challenge or some other means, then we will amend our rules accordingly.
Has it been made mandatory by the UK government to wear masks?
On the 4th June the UK’s Department for Transport made the announcement that face coverings were mandatory on all public transport from 15th June.