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The CAT, a high-speed passenger ferry, departs Yarmouth, N.S., for Portland, Maine, on June 15, 2016.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The provincially subsidized ferry service between southwestern Nova Scotia and Maine has been cancelled for the third consecutive year.

In a news release issued today, Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines says the province was left with no choice but to cancel the 2021 sailing season because of “the ongoing uncertainty” around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada-U.S. border is closed to non-essential travel and the province says that’s not expected to change in the foreseeable future, adding that a “critical percentage” of the general population is not expected to be vaccinated until summer.

It says as a result, the planned May to October ferry season between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, has been called off.

The 2020 sailing season was also cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns, and the 2019 season was scrapped when operator Bay Ferries was unable to complete construction work at the Bar Harbor terminal to meet U.S. customs specifications following a move from its former entry point in Portland, Maine.

The province says it made the decision after consulting with provincial health officials, Bay Ferries and the Town of Yarmouth.

It said making the decision now will help reduce costs in areas such as marketing, hiring additional ship and terminal crew and moving The Cat ferry to Yarmouth. Normal vessel maintenance programs are to continue.

“The province remains committed to this service in the long term,” said Hines. “It will resume when circumstances allow.”

Nova Scotia has a long-term contract for the ferry service through the 2025 operating season.

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