Face Coverings on our Ferries

By law, it is mandatory for all passengers to wear a face covering when travelling with Red Funnel unless under 11 years of age or exempt. This rule applies indoors on our ferries, when embarking and disembarking our ferries on foot, and when inside our terminals. Face coverings are optional but recommended on our outer passenger decks and do not need to be worn inside vehicles.

We appreciate the significance of this to our customers and have therefore put together the following FAQs surrounding the use of face coverings to help answer any questions you may have.

If you have a question that you feel is not covered below, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Face Coverings On Board FAQs

What is the definition of a Face Covering? Is it the same as a face mask?

As per the government's guidelines:

"A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth"

"A face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.


A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Where do I need to wear a Face Covering?

By law, you must wear a face covering while indoors on our ferries, when embarking and disembarking our ferries on foot, and when inside our terminals. Face coverings are optional but recommended on our outer passenger decks and do not need to be worn inside vehicles.

Is anyone exempt from wearing a Face Covering on board?

According to the latest government guidance, passengers with a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means they cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering will be exempt. Children under the age of 11 will also be exempt.

A full list of exemptions is available on the UK goverment's website.

By law, Red Funnel must refuse travel to customers who can (but do not) wear coverings. Customers could forfeit the cost of their booking should they refuse to comply.

I have a disability that would make it difficult or unsafe for me to wear a face covering, what sort of proof must I provide that I’m exempt?

Wearing a face covering when aboard public transportation is one simple way that we can all help keep ourselves and each other safe and strike a balance between the new things we’re able to do again – but also take those extra precautions, whereby, when we all participate --- we can make a difference. We hope that our passengers will also appreciate the principal / spirit behind the face coverings rule and see it not as an inconvenience, but rather as the right thing to do.

With that in mind, the government has acknowledged that there could be some instances whereby wearing a face covering may not be possible. A full list of the current exemptions can be found on their website. Our expectation is that passengers will act in good faith and only exempt themselves from wearing a face covering for legitimate reasons. The exemption is not meant to be a loophole to avoid wearing a face covering.

We trust that the passengers who need this exemption know who they are, and we trust them to make this judgement and take responsibility for their own and others’ safety. Should you fall into the exempt group and be approached by a Red Funnel staff member querying your lack of face cover, please kindly give them a brief explanation as to your reasons for being unable to wear a face covering. We don’t expect you to produce medical documentation and we respect your privacy. Our staff will simply be doing their jobs, ensuring everyone is complying with the new legal requirement - therefore your honest answer will suffice.

Should our staff feel strongly that a passenger’s reason for not wearing a face covering doesn’t sound quite right, they may challenge and escalate the matter. Passengers falsely positioning themselves as having a disability or medical issue preventing them from wearing a face covering are offensive to those legitimately in this situation. We urge everyone using all forms of public transportation - including our ferries, to do the right thing and act with integrity.

What happens if I arrive for my sailing and I don’t have a face cover with me? Can you help me? 

Face coverings will be available for purchase for customers who do not have their own. All profits from the sales of Face Coverings will be donated to charity. Speak with a staff member to find the nearest purchase point within the Terminal or look for the signage on site.

Remember, you will need to have your face covering with you PRIOR to boarding. Please note that when arriving by vehicle, the check in staff member will be asking for proof that all occupants have a face cover with them. This may require you to hold your covering up as proof (if you are not wearing it already). So please make sure that your face covering is accessible for quick verification upon check in.

If you do not have enough face coverings in your party, you may be asked to park in a designated lane whereby a member of our Loading Team will need to double check that you have purchased one from us after checking in and prior to being allowed to board the ferry. Again, you will need to provide the Loader with visual proof that you have obtained a face covering, so please be ready to show this when asked prior to boarding.

What happens if I refuse to wear a face covering? 

By law, Red Funnel must refuse travel to customers who can (but do not) wear face coverings. If you don’t have a face covering and refuse to purchase one and wear one, our staff would have no choice but to refuse to let you on board, and you would also forfeit the cost of your booking.

If you are already on board and refuse to wear a covering after being kindly asked to by a member of staff, we will have to refer the matter to the police, and you could be subject to fines and other penalties.

Can I still eat and drink on board?

Due to the legal requirement for all passengers to wear face coverings, eating and drinking on-board is not permitted in any interior part of the ship unless passengers are under 11 years of age or need to eat/drink for medical reasons. We encourage all passengers to consider enjoying food and drink on our outside decks where face coverings are optional.

The government says children under 11 are exempt from having to wear face coverings, how will Red Funnel help ensure compliance?

We trust that parents/guardians will follow the government’s advice about children wearing face coverings when aboard public transportation, which includes our ferries. We will be asking all passengers to show proof of having a face covering prior to boarding. We may ask parents to confirm their child’s age if we observe children not wearing a face covering and it’s not immediately obvious that the child is under 11 years old. For the time being, we hope that we can rely on the integrity of parents to follow the government guidelines and be honest with our staff about the age of their children, if asked. If we find this common-sense approach isn’t working, we may have to revaluate our procedures.

I’ve observed another passenger not wearing a face covering and breaking the rules, what can I do? 

Please bear in mind the passenger may have a valid reason to not be wearing a face covering, and this may not be immediately visible to you. This is particularly true of passengers with physical or mental illnesses or impairments. There is a full list of exemptions on the UK government's website.

For the sake of passenger privacy we would encourage you not to confront others about their reasons for not wearing a face covering. If you are very concerned, speak with a member of staff or head to the office of the On-board Services Officer (the “OBSO”). This office is located near the toilets on the main passenger (B) deck. The OBSO or another member of staff will discreetly speak to the passenger.

Is there any guidance on the proper wearing / handling of face coverings?

Yes, you can learn more here.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting your face covering on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.

Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.

You should wash a (reusable) face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.

When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends.