Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the ferry, said that stepping down to a 12-hour timetable was a temporary measure to help it manage its staff resources while the more contagious Omicron variant is in circulation.
It will allow Nexus to maintain the cross-Tyne route by separating crews and building in more of a contingency should Covid related sickness rates worsen.
The changes mean that the last crossing from North Shields will be at 6pm on weekdays and on Saturdays, starting from January 9.
Huw Lewis, customer services director, said: “Reducing services is the last thing that we want to do but these are prudent measures to take now so that we can try to protect the Shields Ferry from further Covid-19 disruption.
“By planning a small reduction in service we hope to avoid short-notice cancellations if members of the crew fall ill. This way our customers can better know what to expect and plan their journeys with confidence in the weeks ahead.
“This will be kept under review and as the situation eases off we can look into restoring the evening crossings when the time is right.
“Customers will still be able to use the service as usual during the day and we are not taking off any early morning services.”
The new timetable will mean crossings from 6.45am, Monday to Saturday, to 5.45pm from South Shields and 6pm from North Shields.
The timetable on Sundays is not changing.