A RETURN date has been confirmed for the Sandbanks Ferry after it was temporarily withdrawn due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Operators have announced the service will resume on Wednesday, June 17.
Crossings are due to begin from Sandbanks at 7am, with three trips an hour in each direction until the 11.10pm service from Studland.
Upon return to service, the ferry will only be accepting motorised vehicles until further notice.
While the service has been out of action, operators, the Sandbanks Ferry Company, have been able to carry out refit and maintenance works previously scheduled for November. As a result, this work later in the year will no longer be required.
Mike Kean, managing director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are very pleased to announce the scheduled return to service of the Sandbanks chain ferry.
“The decision to withdraw the service was not taken lightly, but we are glad to have used this time to carry out work which means the scheduled refit in November is no longer needed.
“We hope that this is welcome news for local commuters and businesses as they recover, as we do, from this nationwide lockdown.”
The Government-directed lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic led to a significant reduction in ferry passenger numbers resulting in the need for the service to be temporarily withdrawn.
However, in line with the government’s announcement that shops and businesses can begin reopening from Monday, June 15, passenger numbers are expected to increase to economically and environmentally viable levels as a result.
The Sandbanks chain ferry has procured personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff members to use once the ferry returns. All staff have been trained on how to effectively use it and maintain social distancing while working.
All drivers and their passengers will be asked to remain inside their vehicles and motorcyclists on their bikes. Initially, to support social distancing while queuing for the ferry, foot passengers and cyclists will not be carried.
Further information about when foot passengers and cyclists will be able to use the ferry, and the guidelines that will be in place to enable this, will reportedly be announced in due course.
Mike Kean added: “While I know this service suspension has been difficult for many, our priorities now are to reassure passengers that they can use the ferry again safely and protect our staff whilst doing their jobs.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the entire team who have continued to work tirelessly over recent weeks to get the ferry ready to return to service in a safe way, and to carry out this years’ refit works ahead of schedule.”