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As it happenedended1608756591

UK travel ban: Germans airlift food to Yorkshire as Dover blockage causes ‘severe transport delays’

Latest developments as coronavirus disruption felt around the world

Tom Batchelor
Wednesday 23 December 2020 20:49 GMT
Truck driver criticises government's handling of France border crisis

Hauliers are being urged to avoid Kent despite the reopening of the French border, as protesting lorry drivers closed a road and clashed with police after tempers flared over delays in crossing the Channel just two days before Christmas.  

One man was arrested for obstructing a highway in Dover on Wednesday, while two others were later seen being led away in handcuffs following a scuffle as tensions began to flare once again between hauliers and police officers at the Kent port.  

The first passengers arrived in France from the UK in the early hours of Wednesday as part of a deal to restore travel between the two countries after a wave of bans left travellers stranded and supply lines severed.  

More than 6,000 HGVs are being held in Kent, with drivers being tested for Covid-19 before they are allowed into France.

There were 3,750 vehicles at a lorry holding facility in Manston as of 6.15pm on Wednesday, along with 632 HGVs on the M20 as part of Operation Stack and 1,690 in Operation Brock, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

As a mass testing programme got underway on Wednesday, the first 20 trucks entered the Eurotunnel to make the crossing by early evening. 

However transport secretary Grant Shapps said there continued to be "severe delays" and communities secretary Robert Jenrick warned it could take a "few days" to clear the backlog of lorries waiting to cross into France, despite the travel restrictions being eased.  

Meanwhile, a Lufthansa Boeing 777 cargo plane touched down at Doncaster-Sheffield airport this afternoon with lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus fruit destined for major supermarkets.  



Eurostar passengers told they must have PCR covid test despite France accepting other options

As air, sea and rail services begin once more between the UK and France, Eurostar is insisting that passengers have a negative PCR test result – even though faster and cheaper lateral flow tests are being accepted by the French authorities, writes Simon Calder.

Here is the full story:

Eurostar passengers told they must have PCR Covid test

Eurostar says: ‘You will not be allowed to travel if you do not have a negative PCR Covid test result’ – but the French disagree

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 08:56

First ship leaves Dover with handful of passengers

The French-flagged "Cotes des Flandres" ferry was reportedly the first to leave Dover in the early hours of Wednesday morning after the restrictions were lifted. 

The boat – operated by DFDS Seaways France – arrived at around 3.30 am (0230 GMT) in France, followed by P&O's "Spirit of France".

According to news agency AFP, a handful of passenger vehicles disembarked from the two ships but port management did not expect significant numbers until later on Wednesday.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 09:05

Norway extends ban on flights from Britain by at least three days

The ban on flights from the UK to Norway will be extended by at least three days, the Norwegian health ministry has said in a statement.

A decision on whether to also extend the ban into the new year will be made on 26 December, the ministry said.

Following the lead of other European nations, Norway on Monday initially stopped travel from Britain for 48 hours after news that the new Covid-19 variant was rapidly spreading.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 09:20

Philippine Airlines halts London flights until end of February

Philippine Airlines has suspended its flights to and from London until the end of February.

The carrier, which serves the Manila - London - Manila route once a week, said: "We are monitoring the situation in the UK. As we keep a close watch on this evolving situation, it is in the best interest of all to suspend flights on the route."

Passengers can rebook for free or request a refund, the airline said.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 09:29

Eurostar to allow cheaper antigen tests

Eurostar has now removed its insistence that rail passengers from London to Paris have a PCR test, reports Simon Calder

Faster and cheaper antigen tests are permitted. 

A full list of acceptable test providers has just been published by French Embassy in London.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 09:48

Lorry drivers clash with police in Dover

Angry lorry drivers have been seen scuffling with police at the port of Dover as hauliers continue their long wait to cross the English Channel into France.

TV footage showed pushing and shoving, as officers struggled to hold back dozens of drivers who had gathered to vent their frustration.

Frustrated lorry drivers were also seen honking their truck horns and flashing lights in unison in the dark during the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

Here is the full story: 

Angry lorry drivers clash with police in Dover

Pushing and shoving as frustration rises among truckers stuck for days

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:01

China’s largest airline to suspend flights to London

China Southern Airlines, the country's largest airline by passenger numbers, will suspend direct flights to and from London from 24 December to 7 January, state radio has reported.

China Southern has been operating one weekly flight between its hub Guangzhou and London.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:17

Food shortage warning

There may be shortages of fresh goods until the backlog of lorries waiting to cross the Channel is cleared, the British Retail Consortium has said.

Andrew Opie, the group's director of food and sustainability, said: "It is good news for consumers as the French borders have now reopened, however it is essential that lorries get moving across the border as quickly as possible.

"Until the backlog is cleared and supply chains return to normal, we anticipate issues with the availability of some fresh goods."

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:20

Bulgaria resumes UK flights

Bulgaria has relaxed its ban on flights to and from the UK. 

The Bulgarian government said the restrictions would be eased from 10am on Wednesday.

Bulgaria had announced a ban on air travel to/from Bulgaria and the UK from midnight on 21 December that due to last until 31 January.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:29

Long queues at Indian airports

Passengers flying into India's biggest airports on Wednesday complained of long waits and confusion as authorities sought to impose rules to try to stop the spread of a new more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.

People arriving from Britain before the flight ban came into force were being tested, including Kamini Saraswat whose plane landed in New Delhi just before midnight.

Despite pre-booking a test, her turn came nine hours after arrival and she told the Reuters news agency she was still stuck at the airport waiting for the result.

"There is no clear communication," said Ms Saraswat, 28. "There is no social distancing."

Mobile phone footage shared with Reuters showed long lines of passengers and crowds packed together around desks to get themselves tested.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:33

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