COVID-19 (Coronavirus FAQs)

Updated 27.03.20

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.

To help maintain the wellbeing of Islanders and prevent the spread of Coivd-19, we strongly urge you to follow the government’s advice and stay home. Please do not travel on our ferries unless absolutely necessary. We also ask that you actively discourage any mainland friends and family from visiting you at this time.

Furthermore, if you have just returned to the Island, and do not need to travel for essential reasons, we encourage you to follow the IOW Council’s advice and self-isolate for at least 7 days, but ideally 14 days from your arrival.


If you still have to travel at this time, our timetable remains in operation. However there are some imminent changes, with a reduction in scheduled sailings for both services. 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:

  • "Vehicle Deck Only" sailings for customers wishing to remain in their car
  • Updated Timetables for both Red Jet and Vehicle Ferry services
  • 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:

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: 18:00 & 21:00
  • Departing East Cowes: 19:30 & 22:30 

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 wishing to travel at these times have two options:

(ADVISED) Travel on our Red Jet Service. This will temporarily be available to use at no extra cost with a valid Vehicle Ferry Foot Passenger Ticket or Season Ticket. 

(OPTIONAL) Travel via Mini Bus on the “Vehicle Deck Only” crossing. Please note customers will alight the bus before boarding the vessel, and must remain on the bus for the duration of the crossing. Space for this service is extremely limited, and we advise customers wishing to use it to arrive early.

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.  

We’re continuing to expand the number of ‘vehicle deck only’ crossings in order to provide more options and flexibility. We will identify the availability of these crossings on our booking page and service status page and we’ll be doing this on a daily basis ahead of the next day in order to give you as much notice as possible. Please check here for more info. 

In the meantime, we will continue to do our best to balance bringing essential freight and traffic to the Island as often as we can, as well as providing an adequate amount of these sailing types for our customers. 

What are Red Funnel doing to restrict travel to the Island to "essential travel"?

We are continuing to do all we can to back the government’s advice about non-essential travel. We have sent emails to all customers in our database to remind them of this important advice and are continuing to reinforce this message within our communications and on our website. 

As we operate a lifeline service, Red Funnel staff are NOT in a legal position to question customers’ reasons for travel. The government is also not advising transport operators to screen travellers. We are therefore unable to query customers on arrival, and cannot deny travel. 

Essential travellers are advised to follow the Government’s main guidelines at: 

At this time we are continuing to see essential freight traffic using our service, as well as individuals travelling for essential reasons. This includes NHS and emergency workers. At present, we don’t have any evidence to give us concern that the public is ignoring this advice. Given the unprecedented level of booking amendment and cancellation requests we are receiving, our observation is that holiday makers and non-essential travellers are following government advice and staying away.  

We will continue to strongly discourage anyone from travelling with us unless it is absolutely critical to keeping the Island supplied, or to carry essential services work at this time.

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, will now remain on a "Winter Service" for the forseeable future.

Our Red Jet timetable has been reduced to an hourly service, starting Wednesday 25 March.


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: 06:00-21:30 (Mon to Sat) 07:00-21:30 (Sun)
Southampton T2: 08:00-18:00 (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.