Operator responds to feedback about alleged lack of safe distancing measures, passengers without masks on ferry

Submitted by Stomper Trempest

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Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services has responded to feedback from a passenger who alleged that there were a lack of safe distancing measures on board its ferries.

Stomper Trempest said he boarded a 3pm ferry operated by the company on July 4 from Marina South Pier to St John's Island, where he stayed the night.

He departed the island the following day (July 5) and took a 9.50am ferry back to Marina South Pier.

Trempest alleged: "1) Our temperatures were not taken before boarding the 3pm ferry to St John's Island, though I noticed temperature-taking for outbound visitors when I arrived back at Marina South Pier.

"2) The ferry seats were not marked to promote safe distancing.

"3) More than 60 visitors arrived at St John's Island at about 9.30am. Only one teenager used the SafeEntry sign posted at the jetty entrance. One female visitor did not wear her mask.

"4) I noted that passengers returning on the 9.50am ferry from St John's Island were not wearing masks. A ferry assistant pulled down his mask while passengers were boarding and two women took pictures without their masks while on the ferry.

"5) I also noticed several more passengers in the lower enclosed air-conditioned deck not wearing masks but did not managed to get clear photos.

"I am very concerned about the lack of discipline without the presence of authorities to ensure that safe distancing rules are being followed.

"We all have a part to do in controlling the spread of the virus. SafeEntry is such an important step in contact tracing when the need arises."

In response to queries by Stomp, a spokesman for Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services said: "Temperature-taking of our passengers before they board the ferry is one of our Covid-19 measures and we would like to highlight that this is on top of the industry practice for public transport where commuters are not subject to temperature-taking when travelling on a bus, taxi or private hire cars.

"With reference to the involved incident, we have checked and will continue to reiterate our measures to all our crew to ensure that temperature taking of passengers is being enforced diligently before they are allowed on the ferry.

"Additionally, since May 2020, there is a contactless self-help temperature kiosk at Marina South Pier for users’ convenience.

"With reference to safe distancing of seats in the ferry, we would like to inform that the Port Marine Circular (PMC) 22 was rescinded by Maritime Port Authority (MPA) last week.

"This is in line with the Government’s directive of removing safe distancing measures for public transport on buses and trains.

"Prior to July 5, we had all safe distancing measures on board our ferries in place as seen in attached photos.

"Nonetheless, as part of our Covid-19 measures, for now, we are continuing to maintain safe distancing of seats in enclosed areas of our ferries (i.e. ferry cabin area) for some ferries in our fleet and have only removed the safe distancing stickers for the outdoor area as there is an natural flow of air.

"The Southern Islands are managed by Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the SafeEntry QR code was not placed on the island by us.

"As a ferry operator, we only provide the transport for commuters to reach their destination and we do not have control or the authority to ensure they check in at the respective premises/island.

"We have posters in place on board our ferries to remind passengers about putting on their masks at all times while travelling on our ferries and we have since informed all our crew to go around to check on the passengers to ensure that they comply with mask wearing requirements, moving forward."

View more photos in the gallery.

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