The UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has temporarily relaxed rules requiring all ferry passengers on multi-deck vessels to leave their vehicles and go to communal lounges.
The change will only apply to short voyages to islands close to the mainland, and is therefore likely to affect Red Funnel, Wightlink and Caledonian MacBrayne.
The aim is to help passengers and crew achieve the 'social distancing' measures put in place by the government to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Wightlink has already implemented the change, allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles on its ferry St Clare, which operates between Portsmouth and Fishbourne.
Red Funnel is also using the new measure on crossings departing Southampton at 18:00 and 21:00 each day and departing East Cowes at 19:30 and 22:30. The company has issued special safety information to passengers for these 'vehicle deck only' crossings, and says it may expand the service in the coming days.
On longer island crossings and routes such as Cairnryan-Larne or Dover-Calais, passengers will still be required to leave their vehicles for maritime safety reasons, and special onboard hygiene measures are in place to take account of this.
Nautilus members who are concerned or are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organiser for assistance.