Coronavirus: Wightlink suspends route after passenger numbers fall

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A ferryImage source, Wightlink
Image caption,
Wightlink will suspend the Lymington-Yarmouth because of a fall in passenger numbers

A ferry company has said it will suspend one of its routes because of a fall in passenger numbers caused by coronavirus travel restrictions.

Wightlink said car ferries between Lymington, Hampshire, and Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, would stop running on Tuesday evening.

It said passengers could use alternative routes.

Ferry travellers on other cross-Solent services have been allowed to remain in vehicles to maintain social distancing.

The special dispensation was announced on 19 March on the Southampton-East Cowes and Portsmouth-Fishbourne crossings.

'Visitors not travelling'

In a statement Wightlink said passenger numbers on the Lymington-Yarmouth service had "fallen heavily" since Monday, and social distancing was not a factor in its decision.

It said it would transfer vehicle bookings to its Portsmouth-Fishbourne route, which had "plenty of capacity".

The firm said it had arranged for rival ferry operators Red Funnel and Hovertravel to accept its pre-booked foot passengers.

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said he had been contacted by constituents who wanted ferry companies to protect the island by suspending services altogether.

However, he said ferries were essential for key workers and supplies.

The MP said: "I was on the ferry this week and I can reassure Islanders that there are very few people using the service.

"Tourism visitors are not travelling to the Island at the moment."

But Freshwater resident David Hillman said the island should be shut to most visitors, in common with the Isle of Man.

He said: "New arrivals won't go into quarantine like they've been told - the first thing they will do is go to the supermarket for supplies."