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Ferries should shut bars and restaurants and put passengers in individual cabins - hauliers


(Stock image)

(Stock image)

(Stock image)

Irish hauliers have called on ferry operators to shut all bars and restaurants at sea and to provide room service to individual drivers in their own cabins to keep them shielded from Covid-19.

The Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI) issued its appeal as Brittany Ferries became the first operator to suspend some of its sea links with the island.

FTAI general manager Aidan Flynn said truck drivers were critical for ensuring that agri-food and other essential supplies travel uninterrupted between Ireland, Britain and Europe.

Mr Flynn said ferry firms should “prioritise the safety and welfare of commercial drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their safety should take precedence to ensure our supply chain is protected at all costs.”

The association wants ferries to provide all passengers - but particularly lorry drivers - their own individual cabins and to deliver meals and drinks directly to those cabins. It says all bars and restaurants should be shut to reduce potential virus transmission.

“Businesses within the freight distribution and logistics sector will play a vital role in keeping goods moving across Ireland during this turbulent time, ensuring our supermarket shelves are full, our pharmacies stocked and home deliveries operational,” Mr Flynn said. “Our members must not take be made to take unnecessary risks with the health of their work force.”

Brittany Ferries said it was suspending its recently launched weekly Rosslare services with Roscoff in France, but it will continue twice-weekly services between Rosslare and the Spanish port of Bilbao. Brittany Ferries also suspended services on three UK-France routes.

Irish Ferries and Stena have yet to announce any suspensions on Irish routes connected to the coronavirus crisis.

Swedish-based Stena today announced it would stop permitting travellers on to routes with Denmark and Poland but would continue cargo services to and from those countries.

Like Stena, Irish Ferries has begun offering free amendments to bookings. The only event it has cancelled because of Covid-19 is a special “wine tasting” voyage on 23 April to Cherbourg, France.

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