CalMac services between will only carry 35 per cent of average passenger numbers due to social distancing measures when travel restrictions are eased between Largs and Cumbrae.

Currently the ferry operator is due to run an essential lifeline service until June 30, however it has been revealed that capacity will be heavily curtailed once a full timetable resumes.

With the two-metre physical distancing rule in place, the MV Loch Shira will only be able to carry around 35 per cent of the average passengers it normally sees.

Turnaround times will also be longer due to physically distanced queues and increased cleaning on board vessels.

CalMac Managing Director Robbie Drummond said: “We have great sympathy with the position of island businesses – particularly those which rely on tourism and we have been working with tourism representatives across our network to discuss how we can help them rebuild after Covid.

“There are a range of views in island communities about the best way out of Covid and it is for communities to balance those different and competing interests.

“We are exploring all options and discussing future timetable options with Transport Scotland.

“However, the decision on who can travel and physical distancing on board our ferries remains a matter of Government policy with the First Minister saying as recently as June 9 that the 2m physical distancing policy will not be changing.”

Councillor Alex Gallagher, portfolio holder for recovery and renewal, says the lack of capacity will hurt the island following the easing of travel restrictions.

He said: “It’s never going to guarantee the social and economic regeneration of the islands and we firmly believe the Scottish government should be considering separate and special solutions for Cumbrae.

“The council will be working with the island and with the Scottish Government to make sure we get a lot of these questions answered.

“We are looking at Cumbrae to be a part of our Community Wealth Building plans and that will be detailed when we produce a plan for recovery for the island.”

Kenneth Gibson MSP said: "The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourist, Fergus Ewing MSP, and I, along with Argyll and Bute MSP Mike Russell share the view that CalMac’s current proposals for ‘social distancing’ and the impact on ferry capacity is unrealistic and would cripple island economies.

“We are pressing for CalMac to deliver it’s full timetable as soon as the health advice deems it appropriate and not wait a further ten weeks to get fully up and running as is its current plan.”