Transport Support Unit has been launched
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps joined the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England - Dr Jenny Harries - to update the nation one the Government's latest response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic this evening.
Grant Shapps confirmed there are tentative reasons to be optimistic. Due to the public following government advice and social distancing measures, we are slowing the spread of the virus. However, as always, there is still more pain to come before we can consider lifting any lockdown measures.
The Transport Secretary announced that the Government have secured a tri-lateral agreement with France and Ireland to keep supply chains and freight routes flowing. Many of these routes have been under pressure due to lower demand over recent weeks, therefore, all three governments have come together to ensure these vital routes can continue functioning as normal.
It is over particular importance to protect ferry routes between the UK and Ireland. Critical freight supplies are needed to continue supporting families across the country. Safeguarding air routes is also immensely important - especially from the mainland of the country to Northern Ireland.
The Transport Secretary has launched a Transport Support Unit to help deal with this crisis. Lower use in public transport means the industry as a whole now has more capacity, which the Government will be putting to good use to help support the national effort to tackle Coronavirus. Aircraft will be used to transport food parcels, deliver supplies to hospitals and ensure our food supply chains can keep functioning at optimum level.
Grant Shapps has also given the green light to trials of drones, with the hope of using these to deliver essential food parcels and other supplies where possible. Fast-tracked trials will begin next week to carry medical supplies to St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight. If successful, this could be a real game-changer as we continue to ensure our communities in all four corners of the UK are supported.
The Transport Secretary also confirmed that no British holidaymakers are now stranded on cruise ships anywhere in the world, which is excellent news.
We need to have the right transport infrastructure in place for when we emerge from this lockdown and the country gets moving again. The Transport Secretary said he is committed to ensuring this can happen.