UK government unveils major initiative to protect supply chain

A massive container cargo ship, the MSC Diana, unloading at Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, Eastern England, with the tiny Harwich Harbour Ferry with passengers aboard who have just embarked from the beach. The ferry is moving backwards from the shore in order to turn around safely.

The UK government has unveiled a $42.8 million (£35 million) fund to protect critical domestic freight routes from the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the Department for Transport said it had struck a deal six UK operators to ensure the smooth transit of essential goods, such as medical supplies and goods.

The decision has been 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 (COVID-19).

They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to 9 weeks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP said: “From the very beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it takes to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19.

“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.”

The Department for Transport said it is working closely with the transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on all freight routes (not just those in the scheme) in order to ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.

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