COVID-19 (Coronavirus FAQs)

Updated 29.05.20

Red Funnel continue to monitor the evolving situation in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and appreciate there is a high level of uncertainty for our customers surrounding their travel plans.

While many of us are eager to travel and catch up with friends and family, we wish to remind our customers to heed the government’s advice to stay home as much as possible, and refrain from using public transport unless essential.

When planning your travel, please consider whether your journey fits with the latest government advice and continue to refrain from using our ferries unless absolutely necessary at this time.

The Isle of Wight remains CLOSED for holidays / tourism at this time. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Island back when it is safe to do so.


If you still have to travel at this time, our timetable remains in operation. However we have made changes, with reductions in scheduled sailings on the Vehicle Ferry, and temporary suspension of the Red Jet foot passenger service from 18 April. Further information is available below, and for the latest updates you can check our Service Status Page.

For customers who no longer want to travel, and need to amend / cancel a booking we are offering several flexible options:

Changes for customers who still need to travel

As the situation continues to develop, we are making a number of updates to our service to keep our customers and staff safe. The most recent changes, which have the greatest impact on customers who still have to travel, are:

  • "Stay in vehicle" sailings for customers wishing to remain in their car
  • Updated Timetable for Vehicle Ferry service
  • Temporary suspension of Red Jet service (from 18 April)
  • Closure of all food outlets, on board and in terminals
  • Changes to Ticket Office opening hours

For more information on these, and other important customer updates related to our COVID-19 response, please view our frequently asked questions (FAQs) below.

Your Travel Questions, Answered:

Is the Isle of Wight open for tourism / holiday travel?

No. While the UK Government has adjusted their “Essential Travel Only” message, they have also also been very clear that travel for the purpose of holidays continues to remain prohibited at this time. Furthermore, accommodation providers, attractions, restaurants, pubs, and non-essential retail shops remain closed.

Can I take a day trip to / from the Island for exercise?

While the latest government says people can drive as far as they like to take exercise and enjoy outdoor open spaces, the government also states that people should avoid using public transport as much as possible. Accordingly, we strongly encourage people to follow official guidance and refrain from using our ferries to reach destinations for this purpose.

We appreciate the Island is a beautiful place to visit; however we urge you to follow the government’s advice and continue to avoid non-essential travel on our ferries. Enjoy this time to explore the outdoors closer to your home.

Can I sail to meet with friends and family?

While the government has also issued new guidance around meeting with one other person from one other household, provided the meeting takes place outdoors, in an open area, such as a park, the government still advises against using public transport as much as possible.

Accordingly, as we are suggesting customers refrain from using our ferries to travel for the purpose of taking exercise, we also urge customers to follow the government’s advice and refrain from using our ferries for the purpose of meeting friends and family at this time.

Can we stay in our vehicle during the crossing?

Yes, on select sailings.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has temporarily granted Red Funnel with the ability to allow passengers to remain in their vehicles on select crossings.

Following the government update on 23 March 2020, we will be attempting to operate a "Stay in Vehicle" service on as many sailings as we can. There may still be some sailings on which this is not possible, due to the temporary safety regulations surrounding vehicle numbers, but we will be moving traffic around to try and ensure people can stay in their vehicles.

If the sailing you are booked on does require passengers to use the lounges, and not wait in their cars, you will be informed when boarding. To check before you arrive please monitor our service status page, as we will be updating that information on a sailing by sailing basis.

The following vehicle ferry crossings are currently scheduled be restricted to “vehicle deck only” crossings, whereby the main passenger accommodation areas will be closed, and all passengers must remain in their vehicles

  • Departing Southampton: 15:00 & 21:00
  • Departing East Cowes: 16:30 & 22:30 

Please note: these scheduled sailings will be changing from 18 April. For the updated times, see our temporary timetables.

We may add additional ‘stay in vehicle’ crossings at least 24 hours before travel, based on booked traffic levels. We will identify the availability of these crossings on our service status page as soon as they are announced.

Download "Vehicle Deck Only" crossings safety information

Foot Passenger Information for “Vehicle Deck Only” crossings

On these sailings, our passenger accommodation areas will be closed, so foot passengers cannot travel in the lounges as normal. You can still travel on these sailings by boarding our mini bus which will drive onto the vehicle deck. However, to exercise social distancing, our capacity on this service is limited to just 5 passengers.

We therefore recommend any foot passengers and cyclists plan their travel on sailings that are not Vehicle Deck Only.

Why can't we stay in our vehicle on all crossings?

We would very much like to extend you the option to remain in your vehicle on any crossing of your choice, but unfortunately this is not always possible for health, safety and legal restrictions on this crossing.  

Vehicle decks are classified as cargo spaces under International and National Maritime law, and it is not normally permitted for passengers to transit in these spaces for this reason. Whilst Red Funnel does not have the legal authority to allow passengers to remain in their vehicles, we are very aware of the requirements to support social distancing and protect our customers in this exceptional situation.  

We have worked closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to agree a set of exceptional and mitigating actions that will permit us to offer a number of select crossings on which passengers will be able to remain in their vehicles.  

In order to permit the exemption of legislation to enable passengers to travel in their vehicles, strict limitations are required on the amount of vehicle traffic we can carry. This is to ensure that there is enough space between vehicles so that passengers are able to evacuate their vehicles and ultimately the ship in case of an emergency or fire situation.  At the moment, a number of our crossings are booked with essential travel and freight, and the traffic levels are too high for us to be able to offer the ability for all passengers to remain in their vehicles on all crossings.  

Are you allowing for 2-metre social distancing?

Red Funnel is committed to upholding social distancing best practices, which includes doing all we can to allow for as much space between individuals as possible. Due to the nature of our business as a mass public transportation provider, we may encounter instances whereby facilitating the optimum 2-metre gap between individuals is not always possible, 100% of the time. This is may be especially likely when demand for travel picks up in line with future lockdown easing measures, and may be more likely during boarding or alighting, and during peak times where available space versus demand ratios are tighter. It is also impossible for us to fully control all individual passenger movements on board our vessels due to the inherent nature of ferry travel. 

The government offers a good explanation behind the context of the 2-metre advice and outlines considerations for those who cannot heed their advice to avoid using public transportation, including our ferries at this particular time: 

“Passengers and people working on the transport network should keep their distance from people outside their household, recognising that this will not always be possible. The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact. You are very unlikely to be infected from walking past another person. Public Health England (PHE) recommends trying to keep 2 metres away from people, where possible, as a precaution. However, this is not a rule and the science is complex. The key thing is to not be too close to people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can.”

[Source: HM Government, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Safer transport – guidance for operators (11 May 2020)]

We will continue to do our best to facilitate social distancing as best we can, and we encourage passengers to play their part as well. 

First and foremost, we strongly urge the public to heed the government’s advice and avoid using all forms of public transport until further notice, which includes not travelling on our ferries unless essential, and especially not for the sake of seeking leisure at this time. We also encourage passengers to consider choosing off-peak times, consider travelling on our designated “stay in your vehicle” crossings, which are posted daily here:, to wear face coverings (especially when travelling at peak times), and to consider bringing weather-appropriate clothing to enjoy our outer passenger decks, where wide open space may be more available.



Do I need to wear a face covering / mask when I travel?

While wearing a face covering is not a legal requirement, and we will not prohibit you from travelling without one, we HIGHLY recommend wearing a face cover to protect yourself and those around you. Making a face cover is simple and can likely be made at home with no to little additional cost. Learn how to make your own face cover here

We also have plenty of outdoor space available on our outer decks, which we recommend, in order to enjoy the sea air and views of the Solent.

Has the Red Jet service been suspended?

From Saturday 18 April the Red Jet service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.

This tough decision has been made due to the ongoing reduction in demand, and the need to maintain the resilience of our "lifeline" operation to the Isle of Wight. Passengers will be able to travel on the Vehicle Ferry service, where we are making changes to our "sailing types" to ensure there is ample capacity provided, with social distancing best practices in place.

Our CEO, Fran Collins, has also issued a more detailed message for our Red Jet customers.

The Quayconnect bus service, which links Red Jet passengers to Southampton Town Centre and Southampton Central Station will also cease operation from this date.


I was still using the Red Jet, what are my options once the service is suspended?

For Season Ticket Holders travelling for essential reasons, customers requiring travel for hospital appointments, and other essential travellers, we have put together a number of support options to assist you for travel via our East Cowes > Southampton Vehicle Ferry route. For more information on these go to our Red Jet Suspension info page.

If you are a Season Ticket Holder and you are NOT using your ticket to travel with us at this time, you will not lose value in your season ticket due to being unable to travel. Once the current situation improves, we will be in touch with details about extending your season ticket to reflect the period you missed out on traveling with us.

Has your timetable changed?

Yes, we have made changes to both our planned Vehicle Ferry and Red Jet service timetables, in order to ensure a reliable and resilient schedule for our customers that still need to travel.

Our Vehicle Ferry timetable, which was due to change over to our more frequent "Summer Service" from 4 April, remains on a "Winter Service" until 18 April, when additional reductions will be made.

Our Red Jet timetable has been reduced to an hourly service operating between the hours of 5:45-9:15, and 16:45-21:15 only. From 18 April, the Red Jet service will be temporarily suspended until further notice. Foot passengers wishing to travel can still use the Vehicle Ferry service.


Why can’t I book a motorhome/caravan/trailer on your website?

Whilst Red Funnel staff are not in a legal position to question customers’ reasons for travel due to the nature of our lifeline service, we can restrict the types of vehicles that travel with us.

In line with the Government’s advice to stay home and avoid all non-essential travel, and with holiday/camping parks closed, we do not expect holidaymakers to be travelling with us at this time. It is therefore reasonable for us to disable the ability for customers to book recreational vehicles for travel during dates whereby the UK still remains in lockdown. It is also important for us to ensure that all available space on our ferries is reserved for freight, key workers, or those travelling for medical or emergency reasons.

We do however recognise that some customers may need to transport a motorhome, caravan or trailer with us for legitimate, essential reasons; for example, providing temporary accommodation for an essential worker or a carer. Should you fall into this category and need to book travel, please call our team at 02380 019192 for assistance and we will be happy to help you.

I have a season ticket which I'm not using. What should I do?

In accordance with government about avoiding non-essential travel, working from home, as well as advice around self-isolating, we fully recognise that you may not be using your season ticket at this time. You should already have received an email from us regarding this matter, but if you didn’t, please rest assured that you will not lose value in your ticket due to being unable to travel at this time. 

Once current circumstances improve, we will be in touch to extend your existing season ticket based on the period you have missed out on using it to travel with us. 

There is no need for you to do anything further at this time. We will be in touch as and when the time is appropriate.If you have already contacted us to make a special arrangement regarding your ticket, your arrangement stands and there is no need to contact us again.

Is your ticket office still open?

With the health and safety of our customers and team our number one priority, we have decided to temporarily close our Vehicle Ferry ticket offices, at both Southampton T1 and East Cowes, until further notice.

You can still make a booking or amend a sailing online via our website, or alternatively phone our contact centre on 02380 019192 for additional help.

In addition, with the reduced Red Jet service, our new opening hours for Red Jet ticket offices will be as follows:

West Cowes: 06:00-09:30 & 17:00-21:30 (Mon to Sun)
Southampton T2: 05:30-09:00 & 16:30-21:00 (Mon to Sun)

Please note: from Wednesday 25 March we will temporarily be accepting only contactless card payments at our remaining ticket offices.

Foot passenger and train tickets are still available to buy from the self-service machines, which are located at the terminals.

Are you still offering food & drink services?

With the health and safety of our customers and team our number one priority, we have decided to temporarily close all food and drink outlets on-board our ferries, and in our terminals, until further notice.

There are still drinks and snacks available to purchase from vending machines at the following locations:

  • West Cowes Terminal (Red Jet Service)
  • Southampton T2 (Red Jet Service)
  • East Cowes Terminal (Vehicle Ferry Service)
  • Southampton T1 (Vehicle Ferry Service)

Do you have sufficient hand gel / hand washing facilities?

Both in our terminals and on-board we are encouraging all passengers and staff to follow NHS advice on the best way to stay protected, which is to thoroughly wash your hands as often as possible for a minimum of 20 seconds.

We have hand washing facilities in all of our toilets, both on-board and in the terminals.

In addition we also have hand gel dispensers in public and staff areas, which are regularly replenished where possible. There is however unprecedented global demand for hand gel, which is leading to delays with supply, and making it difficult for us to replenish stock as soon as it runs out. If you discover a dispenser is empty, please use the hand washing facilities in our nearest toilets as an alternative.

What is Red Funnel doing in response to COVID-19?

Red Funnel has an internal Pandemic Response Plan (PRP) and is working closely with the Isle of Wight’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to ensure that we are taking all appropriate, effective safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The LRF represents the highest level of planning for emergency preparedness on the Isle of Wight and includes representation from Public Health England, the Hampshire Constabulary, as well as the Island’s major transport operators. Red Funnel’s PRP is closely aligned to the overarching plan being executed by the LRF, which is vital to ensure a coordinated approach to keeping the Island safe and supported.

Deployment of Red Funnel’s PRP coincides with guidance from the NHS. At this time, the NHS has classed COVID-19 as a Level 4 Incident. Accordingly, we are currently deploying the aspects of our plan which are appropriate under this Level 4 classification.

Internally, we have designated a Pandemic Response Team and have made the continuous review and assessment of our Pandemic Response Plan one of our highest priorities at this time. 

Is Red Funnel conducting any health / temperature screenings?

No. Such screening would need to be organised and deployed via the NHS or Public Health England, and at this time we are not aware of any such plans to set up testing hubs at our terminals. Red Funnel staff do not possess the specific expertise necessary to conduct such screenings, nor do we possess the necessary equipment. Making decisions about who can and who cannot travel is a complex matter where the NHS, Public Health England or another third-party authority would need involvement, and as COVID-19 is currently classed as a Level 4 Incident we do not anticipate that such measures would be taken at this time.

What additional health & safety precautions is Red Funnel taking at this time?

Passengers will notice a high level of communication around our vessels and terminals, in the form of signage and customer announcements, reminding passengers about the importance of practising good hygiene.

Led by our Pandemic Response Team, Red Funnel will continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE) in regards to COVID-19. We will also continue to monitor all regional government and council information relating to the tracking of the virus and health and safety measures, as well as playing an active role in working together with all the members of the Isle of Wight’s Local Resilience Forum.

Increased cleaning schedules

We have further enhanced the normal cleaning schedules to continuously cover high-touch areas with more frequency. We are using the recommended broad-spectrum sanitiser on all public, crew and bridge team areas. Across the business we have increased the amount of hand sanitiser dispensers and increased the communications regarding handwashing and personal hygiene for staff and passengers. We have also stipulated that all staff wear protective gloves for both their own protection and to minimise the potential transmission, and we are ensuring the correct personal protective equipment is worn whenever recommended. We are also removing some non-essential equipment from terminals and vessels to minimise high-touch points.

All areas of the ships and terminals are subject to a high frequency cleaning scheduled, but we are paying particular attention to specific high-touch areas including, but not limited to, hand rails, door plates, door handles, chair grab points, lift buttons, taps, counter tops, sink areas, radios, light switches etc. These are being cleaned continuously on a rotational cleaning schedule.

Red Funnel is using recommended and highly concentrated industry-standard cleaning products. These include a multi-surface cleaner for general soil removal and hard surface cleanliness, as well as a recommended sanitiser to remove bacteria and reduce the risk of other pathogens.

The current and specific advice is that deep cleaning is only advisory in areas that have definitely been exposed to pathogens. Deep cleaning requires a minimum of six hours with no human presence to be effective and, we have plans in place should the need to deep clean arise, but to date, this has not been necessary, and we are confident that our rigorous cleaning schedule is keeping our ferries as safe and clean as possible. We continue to comply with all guidance and advice from government and legislative bodies and are ready to react to changes in this if required.

Air conditioning units continue to be cleaned as normal in line with advice, however we will continue to follow guidelines and react if changes are required. None of our vessels are ‘sealed environments’ and therefore fresh air flows through naturally.

I have further questions. Who should I contact?

Email us at: This is the best way for us to take in your questions/comments and get them to the right place, as well as ensure the fastest response.

Please note: our Contact Centre and Customer Services are currently experiencing a very high volume of calls and emails, and we thank you for your patience as we try to process these.