Steamship Authority reiterates cloth face covering policy for travel, issues guidelines for employees

Posted: July 15, 2020

FALMOUTH, Mass. (July 15, 2020) – In light of troubling reports received from around the world of employees being verbally or physically assaulted for attempting to enforce public health and safety policies regarding COVID-19, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has issued updated guidance regarding cloth face coverings to its personnel to address not only their safety but the safety of the traveling public.

The use of cloth face coverings has been required for more than two months for all individuals while using the services of public mass transit under the May 1, 2020 order of Gov. Charles D. Baker (see “COVID-19 Order No. 31”). In addition to reiterating that the use of cloth face coverings is required to board an Authority shuttle bus or vessel for travel, other than in the exemption laid out in the order, the new guidance issued by the Authority further establishes steps employees should take when encountering a noncompliant passenger. Those steps include: 

  • Offering a disposable mask to customers traveling without a cloth face covering for use during their bus trip.
  • Requiring all passengers when boarding, disembarking and while onboard the Authority’s vessels to wear cloth face coverings in interior passenger areas, including vessels’ freight decks.
  • Advising all passengers boarding, disembarking or onboard the Authority’s vessels without a cloth face covering that their travel may be impacted or delayed by Authority personnel.
  • Obtaining the assistance of law enforcement in situations where a customer ignores the request of Authority personnel to don a mask or cloth face covering.

Supplies of disposable masks have been provided to Authority shuttle bus drivers and are available for dockside personnel to provide to customers who may have forgotten their own cloth face coverings or otherwise be in need of one.

Vessel employees, likewise, have been issued updated guidance and have been instructed that they can enlist the assistance of law enforcement for those individuals who ignore the instruction of Authority personnel to follow cloth face covering policies while traveling.

“By and large, our customers have been very receptive to this policy and we have had very few instances where this new guidance would have come into play,” said General Manager Robert B. Davis. “However, we wanted to be sure our employees had the proper tools to handle these situations when they occur and that they knew we will support them in their efforts to enforce this state mandate.”