Strict controls placed on travellers from Britain

Ports and airports
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The Independent Online

Yoghurts and sausage rolls became contraband goods, in effect, yesterday as strict procedures were introduced for people travelling from Britain to the Continent and the Republic of Ireland because of foot-and-mouth disease.

Yoghurts and sausage rolls became contraband goods, in effect, yesterday as strict procedures were introduced for people travelling from Britain to the Continent and the Republic of Ireland because of foot-and-mouth disease.

Ireland imposed the stiffest measures on travellers from Britain. Passengers arriving by air and sea from the UK had to walk over disinfected mats and have their car tyres sprayed with disinfectant.

The principal focus was on travellers arriving from the British mainland and any products they might have with them. "We're asking that people don't bring food," said a spokesman for the Irish Department of Agriculture and Food in Dublin.

"Everyone at ports and airports, including those in transit lounges, who has come from Britain has to walk over disinfected mats," he said. "Cars are being sprayed." The department refused to say how much the measures would cost to implement, though £1m per day or more has been estimated.

The republic's two main wildlife sanctuaries, Dublin Zoo and Fota Island near Cobh are closing until the crisis is over.

Though strict, the measures have not - yet - reached the extremes that they did during the last big British outbreak in 1967 and 1968, when people in Ireland were told to burn letters from the UK. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London said it was not aware of any countries refusing entry to travellers from Britain because of foot-and-mouth.

But passengers arriving in France, Germany and the Netherlands from Britain had to comply with measures designed to stop the virus hitching a ride with them.

Travellers on international flights, ferries, boats and Eurostar have been instructed to leave food from home or bought in transit behind on arrival, so that it can be returned to Britain for disposal, as fears of the virus being spread by unintended contact grew.

Authorities in Ireland, France and Germany told passengers on car ferries and aeroplanes to dispose of any meat or milk products they had brought with them before disembarking.

P&O Stenaline said that not only can it not allow passengers to carry food, but it can no longer dispose of food waste in Calais, but must return it to landfill sites in Britain.

Airlines were also instructed not to dispose of any food taken on board in the UK. British Airways cabin crews were disinfecting seats on flights where anyone had recently been in contact with a farm.

German airports placed any food from Britain containing meat or dairy products under suspicion as possible carriers. Customs officers confiscated uneaten sandwiches from passengers and distributed leaflets explaining why the precautions against spreading the disease were being taken.

Ferry passengers arriving at Hook of Holland faced long delays and confiscation of some goods.

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