Coronavirus: Red Jet and Hythe Ferry crossings suspended

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image captionThe Red Jet Southampton-West Cowes route is being suspended

Catamaran passenger sailings across the Solent are being suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak, operator Red Funnel has announced.

The Red Jet service between Southampton and West Cowes had already been reduced to peak times only.

Chief executive Fran Collins said it was a "necessary step to ensure that we can maintain a resilient service".

The Hythe Ferry linking Southampton and the Waterside is also being suspended from Saturday.

Earlier this month the three companies operating cross-Solent ferries agreed new timetables as passenger demand fell due to government restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

image copyrightHovertravel
image captionModifications allow Hovertravel to transport patients on stretchers securely along with medical staff

Ms Collins said it had been a "tough decision" to fully suspended the Red Jet service, leaving the Red Funnel vehicle ferry service as the sole link between Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

"I am confident that the revised, more efficient timetable will allow us to continue to maintain critical transportation service for key workers and those who need to travel for essential reasons, as well as continue to support the ongoing flow of critical freight and supplies," she added.

Red Funnel also announced two additional daily freight-only sailings.

Wightlink's Lymington-Yarmouth car ferry route and Portsmouth to Ryde Fast Cat service remain suspended.

The Southsea-Ryde Hovertravel service continues to take key workers and medical supplies across the Solent.

Its two hovercraft have also been modified to allow stretchers to be taken on board, meaning Isle of Wight patients and paramedics can be flown to Southsea or a new temporary pad in Southampton.

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seeley said the further reductions had been agreed with the Department for Transport and the NHS on the island.

"The new timetables will provide a minimum level of service whilst ensuring health and essential needs are met," he added.

image copyrightDes Blenkinsopp
image captionThe Hythe Ferry runs between the Hampshire market town and Southampton's Town Quay

Operator of the Hythe Ferry, Blue Funnel Cruises said it was suspending sailings from the weekend.

A statement said: "The company can no longer support the service with the drastic drop in passenger numbers. We would love to continue but cannot financially maintain the service."

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