As Toronto moves into the next stage of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan, ferry service to Toronto Islands is set to resume on Saturday.
Mayor John Tory told 98.1 CHFI on Wednesday morning but made the official announcement at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal a short time later.
“There’s some rules on, again that have to do with crowding and spreading of the virus imposed by the federal government, that have really changed the way ferries will operate,” Tory said on the radio station.
The ferries will operate at 50 per cent maximum capacity, “with a number of COVID-19 guidelines and procedures in place to protect passengers and staff, developed in consultation with Toronto Public Health.”
Tickets will be limited to 5,000 per day and must be purchased online.
Passengers will be required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings, and visitors are encouraged to travel outside of peak times from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The ferries will be cleaned and disinfected after every trip.
Washrooms on the ferries will be closed but will be open at the terminal and at Toronto Island Park. There will also be food and beverages offered at the park, and splash pads will be open. However, Centreville and playgrounds will remain closed.
The ferries weren’t running after Transport Canada ordered them idled when COVID-19 really started to spread. Ferry service was only provided to Wards Island and residents who live on the Islands.
The return of ferry service is also good news for water taxis who transport people to the Islands.
“The city will be accepting applications for water taxi permits, and will work with those who apply to provide docking privileges beginning on Saturday,” City of Toronto spokesperson Jaclyn Carlisle said.
Toronto, along with Peel Region, officially entered Stage 2 on Wednesday.
Businesses given the green light to resume operations in Toronto and Peel today include hair stylists, pools and tour guide services. Restaurants are also allowed to reopen their patios for dine-in service, though no one is yet allowed to be served indoors.
In all cases, the Ontario government says proper physical distancing measures must be maintained to prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases.