COVID concerns: Nova Scotia cancels Yarmouth-Maine ferry service for 2020

The CAT, a high-speed passenger ferry, prepares to depart Yarmouth, N.S. heading to Portland, Maine on its first scheduled trip on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

The Nova Scotia government has cancelled the 2020 sailing season for the heavily subsidized ferry service that links the province with Maine, citing the ongoing struggle to contain COVID-19 in the United States.

Premier Stephen McNeil says he hopes the service will resume next year, but he made it clear that it would be unsafe to do so this year.

The money-losing service, operated by Charlottetown-based Bay Ferries Ltd., had said in February that crossings were expected to start by June 26.

The company operates The Cat, a high-speed catamaran ferry that was to sail between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, where the company had spent more than $8 million renovating the ferry terminal.

Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald had said crossings would be offered six days a week, every day but Wednesdays, until the season ended on Oct. 13.

MacDonald issued a statement Friday saying the decision to cancel the season was difficult but obvious, given that international, non-essential travel worldwide has come to a standstill.