Despite COVID-19, ferries could be busy on Thanksgiving

Although essential-only travel is urged, Washington State Ferries cautions people catching a state ferry over Thanksgiving weekend to be aware that routes may be busy or different than expected.

In particular, people should review sailing schedules in advance. Several routes are operating on modified timetables under Washington State Ferries’ COVID-19 Response Service Plan that are different from years past:

On the Mukilteo/Clinton run — as well as Seattle/Bainbridge and Seattle/Bremerton — final daily round trips are suspended.

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, there will be a few schedule changes for the Edmonds/Kingston, Mukilteo/Clinton and Point Defiance/Tahlequah routes, according to Ferries.

“With statewide restrictions in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19, this will not be a normal Thanksgiving for ferry travel,” said Amy Scarton, head of WSF.

“If you absolutely must ride our ferries, please wear a mask anytime outside of your vehicle as one is required aboard our vessels and throughout our terminals in compliance with the state’s health order (pdf 315 kb) to help keep people safe.”

State Ferries warns that lengthy wait times are possible for people driving a vehicle onto a vessel over the long holiday weekend. For people who must travel, the busiest sailings will likely be in the westbound direction Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 25, through Thursday morning, Nov. 26, then eastbound Thursday afternoon through Friday, Nov. 27. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider taking an early morning or late evening sailing.

To maintain physical distance standards, State Ferries will enforce reduced occupancy in terminals and on sailings for walk-on passengers.

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan ahead for potential backups and delays with real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for mobile devices.

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