No one on state ferries — passengers or crew — required to wear masks

The M/V Tazlina rounds Point Retreat on its way to Juneau on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Jay Beedle)

Masks and other face coverings won’t be made mandatory for passengers and crew aboard state ferries.

In a statement, the Alaska Marine Highway System says it puts the health and safety of employees and passengers first and will continue to work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It says cloth masks are available for crew but not currently required.

“Right now passenger numbers on AMHS vessels are very low, and social distancing is easily attainable for employees and passengers,” state transportation spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said in a statement.

Alaska Airlines recently announced that masks are now required for any crew members coming within six feet of passengers. The mask requirement will be extended to passengers on May 11.

Since March, the state ferry system says it’s been turning away passengers with flu-like systems. The measure is designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between communities.

There are currently two vessels running: the Tazlina connecting the northern panhandle and the Lituya  that shuttles between Metlakatla and Ketchikan.