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BC Ferries say capacity will be reduced by half compared to this time last year, with route cancellations and service reductions in place for 60 days.HO/The Canadian Press

BC Ferries is suspending service on certain routes and laying off hundreds of staff starting Saturday as the company deals with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ferry operator says capacity will be reduced by half compared to this time last year, with route cancellations and service reductions in place for 60 days.

The ferry operator says all sailings on the Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay and the Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay routes are cancelled for 60 days starting Saturday.

Sailings on the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and Duke Point to Tsawwassen routes will be reduced from eight round trips per day to four.

Service on the Langdale to Horseshoe Bay route will be reduced to six round trips a day from eight.

The company says it hopes to rehire its temporarily laid off staff as soon as possible.

“These changes are designed to ensure we have sufficient capacity to allow the flow of essential goods, services, supplies and workers to their destinations,” Mark Collins, the company’s president and CEO, said in a release. “We will continue to transport the goods communities rely on, and we will get people to where they need to go.”

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