June 15, 2021 - Based on the CDC recommendations released on June 10, face masks will no longer be required to be worn while on the outside decks of our vessels, or outside and on AMHS terminal property. However, the CDC continues to recommend wearing of masks in these areas by people who are not fully vaccinated. Face masks are still required to be worn while inside on our vessels and when inside any of our terminal buildings (with exceptions listed below) .
Further information on the current CDC requirement for face masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs can be found here.
Our policies below have eliminated mandatory testing and screening policies for passengers aboard our vessels, however crew screening measures are still in effect.
AMHS has implemented changes to our standard operating procedures to protect against the transmission of COVID-19 on our vessels. The safety of passengers and crew is the highest priority for the Alaska Marine Highway System. AMHS continues to work closely with Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to establish protocols intended to protect everyone during sailings.
Travel protocols for the Alaska Marine Highway were developed with Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) specific to ferry travel and may be more restrictive than State of Alaska travel mandates. Please review and follow all AMHS Travel Protocols when planning to travel by ferry and State guidance for all other travel. If you are planning to travel through Canada please check the latest entry restrictions before attempting to cross the border https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/services/covid/menu-eng.html.
AMHS reminds Alaskans and visitors about the importance of adhering to the following protocols. If a positive case develops on a ship during transit, the health of all aboard could be impacted. This may include a required quarantine or isolation period for all aboard, with no access to public transportation for a minimum of 14 days. It is up to all passengers and crew to act responsibly so ferry service can continue in Alaska.
Travel to Alaska – Rules for travelers arriving into Alaska from another state or country can be reviewed on the state Traveler Information page.
Travel within Alaska-Nov. 18, 2020 update: – Rules for travel to or from communities not connected to the road system or marine highway system are outlined in the Governor's Health Order No. 8. Some communities have additional restrictions, so check with local communities about non-essential travel off the road/ferry system. Alaska has many small and remote communities that lack a robust healthcare system and they may restrict non-essential travel. For additional details, please see the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website at: https://covid19.alaska.gov/health-order/ and the Alaska Safe Travels website at https://covid19.alaska.gov/travelers/.
Crew Screening – When crew members report aboard a vessel, at every crew change, the purser will require evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 168 hours (7 days) prior to reporting for duty. OR a valid CDC issued COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card showing a complete vaccination can be shown in lieu of a negative test result and declaration.
AMHS Travel Protocols – All AMHS Travel Protocols are defined as follows:
- All passengers (over 24 months of age) and crew are
required to wear face coverings while inside on our vessels and
when inside any of our terminal buildings. Exceptions include when in a stateroom,
while eating, or in a vehicle while loading/unloading
*(except when showing ID and boarding passes to the Purser or
other designee). To the extent possible, AMHS will make reasonable
accommodation for a passenger who is unable to wear a face
covering due to a disability.
As of February 1, 2021 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act requiring persons to wear proper face coverings when using public transportation systems to help reduce the introduction, transmission and spread of COVID-19. AMHS currently requires passengers and employees to wear masks inside, but the CDC order makes refusal to wear a face covering a violation of federal law. The CDC order is located at https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/Mask-Order-CDC_GMTF_01-29-21-p.pdf.
- Passengers will be allowed ashore at all port calls if there are no community restrictions.
- All passengers and crew will practice social distancing.
Testing Information – The following information pertains to testing and is provided for informational purposes only. Testing is not a requirement for passengers:
- Alaska Test Site Locator
- US Test Site Locator
- Bellingham / Whatcom County Test Site Locator
- MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care (Family Care in Seattle Area)
- If testing is not available in your location, there are FDA authorized at home test that may be an option:
- Details about which tests are accepted are located at https://covid19.alaska.gov/faq/
Risk of Disrupted Travel
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is required to immediately report any illness of persons on board our vessels to the US Coast Guard (USCG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New protocols have been put in place to help avoid disruptions to service or create a situation involving passengers quarantined aboard ship. All travelers and crew are expected to follow the above protocols.
A passenger or crew member who presents Covid-19 like symptoms while the vessel is underway will be isolated and crew will follow the AMHS Pandemic Response protocol. The Master of the vessel will notify the Coast Guard as required of any potential Covid-19 cases and follow their directions. The Master will also inform AMHS shore side managers once USCG is notified about the potential Covid-19 case(s).
In the event that a COVID-19 case is confirmed onboard a mainline vessel the USCG and State of Alaska DHSS have the authority to quarantine the vessel at the nearest safe port of call. This may cause a risk of disrupted travel to passengers onboard the vessel which may last an undetermined length of time until passengers and crew can be tested, all tests are negative and the vessel is cleaned and deemed safe to continue service. A disruption of travel may cause travelers additional time and unanticipated expense.
Keeping our Travelers and Employees Safe
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the main federal response agency for maritime vessels. The United States Coast Guard has forwarded precautionary information to vessel operators and AMHS is working closely with both entities to ensure our methods and materials remain consistent and current for handling new developments related to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) uses cleaning methods and materials that are meant to reduce the potential for acquiring communicable diseases. These cleaning methods and materials are designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, Influenza A&B, Norovirus, and the multitude of other communicable diseases. AMHS has reviewed our Infection Control Plan with all vessel and shore side employees and modified our standard operating procedures to clean and disinfect passenger areas onboard state ferries and in our terminal facilities more frequently to ensure passenger safety.
Here are the multilayer cleaning protocols AMHS has implemented to keep travelers and employees safe from communicable diseases:
- Intensified Cleaning of our Terminal Facilities
- AMHS has implemented the use of Virox wipes for cleaning high touch areas; such as ticket counter/window areas, doors and tables. All restrooms are disinfected three times per day and wiped down routinely throughout the day.
- AMHS has implemented a NO contact policy between employees and customers and will put more distance between themselves and customers when providing assistance.
- Implemented sanitization protocol after handling customer hand luggage, boxes and freight, on top of regular washing.
- AMHS employees will no longer be handling customer credit cards, they will request that customers read the credit card details.
- Signage with protocol for boarding vessels has been added to terminals and boarding areas.
- Steps Implemented Onboard our Vessels
- All restrooms are disinfected three times per day and wiped down routinely throughout the day.
- High touch areas such as handrails, counter tops, door handles, drinking fountains and vending machines are sanitized several times per day.
- AMHS has temporarily removed certain food service options such as; salad bars, self-serve and unwrapped food items from our cafes. These items can be requested from the cook, server or cashier.
- AMHS is providing continuous training of our crew regarding CDC advised cleaning practices.
- AMHS has updated the use of CDC recommended disinfecting and sanitizing products.
AMHS is currently taking bookings for our summer schedule. Our reservations call center, terminals and administrative offices all remain open on regular business hours. Reservations for travel can continue to be made by calling your local terminal, our toll-free Juneau reservations call center at 1-800-642-0066, or you can confirm reservations online.