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Monday, May 18, 2020 

Spanish ferry operator Baleāria says it is working with Bureau Veritas (BV) with the aim of becoming the first shipping company to obtain Covid-19 safety certification.

BV's Global Safe Site Covid-19 badge will certify that Baleària's ships and managed ferry terminals have implemented specific procedures, cleaning plans, organisational and personal protective measures to prevent Covid-19. The carrier will periodically be testing for the possible presence of the virus on surfaces, in order to obtain the certificate at the highest, 'Excellence' level. The certification goes beyond the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation, involving more complete, reinforced procedures in terms of safety and cleaning.

Certification will cover 16 of the company's ships (the 12 currently in operation and an additional four expected to enter service when the current restrictions on passenger travel are lifted), as well as the two ferry terminals that it manages directly (Dénia and Valencia). Certification is expected to be issued in early June, and will be renewed every six months with periodic inspections.

Baleària's president, Adolfo Utor, said: "Travel by sea is better able than any other to guarantee safety, since the large spaces available on board allow distance to be maintained between passengers."

The BV audit will systematically check personal hygiene and social distancing provisions, the handling of PPE and identification of sensitive workers, among other elements.

Baleària currently operates 12 ships carrying freight and passengers who are authorised to travel. This has provided a pilot model to develop safety protocols. Various initiatives taken include stepping up cleaning and disinfection, crew members in contact with passengers wearing masks, and also gloves in the kitchen areas. Crowding is avoided by spacing out embarkation, disembarkation and areas where queues occur. Passengers are provided with alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and since 4 May have been required to wear masks when travelling. The company has set up a Covid-19 monitoring committee and a specific communication channel, while optimising crew shift rotas to avoid infection on board.

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