BRITAIN’S crisis-hit ferries were today given a £27million bailout to keep food and medical supplies flowing during the lockdown.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps threw the industry a lifeline after passenger numbers plummeted by 90 per cent during the crisis.
The cash will mean boats can carry on sailing between Britain and Northern Ireland, Europe and the Isle of Wight and Scilly Isles.
And drones could soon be carrying protective equipment and Covid testing kits to the Isle of Wight as trials to use the new aircraft were sped up.
Thousands of volunteers, lorries, planes and helicopters have also been put on standby to help shift vital gear around the country.
Department for Transport bosses say the fleet will help make sure the most remote parts of the UK do not run out of life-saving kit.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “Essential supplies are continuing to flow well, but operators are facing challenges as fewer people travelling means less capacity to move goods.
“Today’s action will help ensure all parts of the UK have the capacity they need and, following on from our action to support the rail and bus sectors, it shows how this Government is acting to protect the transport links the country relies on.
“Now more than ever we need to work closely together, and the new Transport Support Unit stands ready to help our frontline staff and deliver crucial supplies.”
The cash will go to ferries covering 31 routes.
While drones carrying masks, overalls, gloves and other vital protective gear between the mainland and St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight are expected to take off within weeks.