Published: 15:19, 13 March 2020
| Updated: 11:54, 16 March 2020
Extra sanitising, full staff briefings and changes to ventilation are measures being brought in by a ferry company to limit the spread of coronavirus.
P&O has also streamlined its disease management procedures and approved isolation areas have been set up on board its six Dover-Calais ships and in its shore locations.
A letter of confidence signed by the firm's chief executive Janette Bell said the "strong focus on hygiene" extends across its practises including at its Dover headquarters Channel House and its catering services.
And any new and existing bookings can now be changed without an amendment fee in a bid to keep people travelling.
She said: "I wanted to reach out to you personally about what we are doing at P&O Ferries to support you with your travel plans, as the world comes to terms with an unprecedented health risk in COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
"Whilst these are exceptionally challenging times for our industry, you can continue to put your trust in us, not only to take you where you need to go, but to do so safely, comfortably, and provide you with maximum flexibility.
"As always, the safety of our passengers and crew remain our highest priority. We take great pride in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene and in response to the coronavirus, we have heightened our cleaning and hygiene protocols."
The letter, published on its website today, said they have:
Increased sanitising of all high contact areas, switched from air conditioning to 100% fresh air ventilation where possible, briefed all staff on robust COVID-19 protocols in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice, and put dedicated Disease Management Teams in place who are trained in approved isolation procedures, both on-board and at shore locations.
Ms Bell added: "I fully understand the hesitation many people feel at the moment when deciding whether to book or not. But you can feel secure in the knowledge that we have taken every precaution necessary to protect your health and provide you with the reassurance that we will act in your best interests.
"I also appreciate that your concern may not be about your journey with P&O Ferries, but about the many unknowns surrounding the changing situation. That’s why you can book your P&O Ferries crossing today with the confidence of being able to change your booking without an amendment fee. And in the event the government restrict travel to your chosen destination we will issue a credit for future travel or refund.
In over 180 years of operations, P&O Ferries has faced many challenges and always emerged stronger. We were able to do so because we put you, our customer, at the heart of our operation. With that commitment in mind, I am confident that we will overcome this challenging time as well. Whether you are traveling now or in the future, our teams are ready to ensure safe and continued travel with us.