The UK government has signed agreements with six operators to provide up to £35million to help ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.
The companies in question are Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Eurotunnel, P&O, Seatruck and Stena.
The decision was reportedly made to protect 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus.
The routes include Portsmouth-Santander, Portsmouth-Cherbourg, Poole-Bilbao, Dover-Dunkerque, Dover-Calais, Folkestone-Coquelles, Cairnryan-Larne, Tilbury-Zeebrugge, Teesport-Europoort, Hull-Europoort, Hull-Zeebrugge, Heysham-Warrenpoint, Rotterdam-Killingholme, Cairnryan-Belfast, Harwich-Rotterdam and Harwich-Hoek van Holland.
They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to nine weeks.
“By taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union,” Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said.
The agreements follow the UK, French and Irish governments’ pledge to work together on temporary measures to ensure COVID-19 does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries.