The UK government announced support for ferry services in order to protect the shipping of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Up to GBP 17 million has been made available to the ferry companies P&O, Stena Line and Seatruck to maintain “critical routes” during the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Northern Ireland will cover a total of 40% of the costs. According to Nichola Mallon (Northern Ireland's Infrastructure Minister), the money will “ensure the supply routes which Northern Ireland relies on for food, medicines and other essential supplies continue without any interruption during this period".
Because of the global Coronavirus crisis, ferry operators have been under pressure, with some of them having to reduce operations. The Department for Infrastructure has been in discussions with the Department for Transport for several weeks about a funding package.
Image: Port Belfast (Northern Ireland)
On Thursday, April 23, P&O Ferries announced that the company would suspend one ship on the Larne-Cairnryan route (reducing to 1-ship service). P&O Ferries furloughed 1400 employees and said it needs ~GBP 250 million in funding to maintain operations through the crisis. P&O had asked the UK government for GBP 150 million of support for its shipping operations and has not commented on the funding announcement.
For Coronavirus updates on cruise ship quarantines (infected passengers and crew) and top-pandemic countries (COVID-19 cases and deaths, daily updated statistics) see at CruiseMapper's Norovirus page.