VICTORIA -- BC Ferries has launched a series of priority cargo sailings to ensure that essential goods continue to travel between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cargo sailings will travel between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay Monday through Friday until May 15.

The priority sailings will only carry a maximum of 84 passengers, and will depart from Tsawwassen at 3 p.m. and depart from Swartz Bay at 5 p.m.

These sailings will prioritize commercial vehicles that are transporting goods. Following that, essential service workers will be loaded onto the vessel on a first-come, first-served basis.

If space is still available on the sailing after commercial vehicles and essential service workers have boarded, other traffic may then be loaded on.

“BC Ferries continues to monitor commercial traffic and the need for additional sailings,” said the organization in a statement.

“The company is taking steps to protect the health and safety of communities and our crew, match service levels to current demand and ensure the resiliency of coastal ferry service.”