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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.  



Hong Kong ‘implements 21 day quarantine’ for UK arrivals

Starting tomorrow, anyone arriving from the UK into Hong Kong will need to quarantine for 21 days upon entry.

Earlier this week Hong Kong banned all flights from Britain. 

Officials fear the new Covid-19 variant may already be in the city after two students who returned from the UK were confirmed to have the virus.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:48

Snow brings weather warning

Cumbria Police are warning motorists in the Pennines to “take extra care” on the A686 road linking Hartside with Alston, following heavy snowfall, reports Simon Calder.

“Motorists are asked to drive to the road conditions in front of them, which may be slower than the speed limit,” officers say.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:51

Cuba demands PCR tests from 2021

From the New Year, Cuba will demand a negative PCR Covid test result taken within 72 hours before travel at an accredited testing centre from all international arrivals, writes Simon Calder

Children are not exempt. A second test will be conducted on arrival.

"You should not use the NHS testing services to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country," says the British government.

Cuba is one of relative few nations from which travellers need not quarantine on return to the UK. 

La Rampa street in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba
La Rampa street in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba (Simon Calder)
Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 10:56

Australians offered help to get home

The Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom is offering help to citizens to travel back from the UK, after key transit routes via Singapore and Hong Kong were closed off by travel bans. 

“We will begin to contact affected Australians, who advised us of their disruption, today,” the statement said. 

"We will be offering them support to get home including by connecting affected Australians with alternate tickets on other airlines, utilising surge capacity on other carriers into Australian jurisdictions with quarantine capacity and by making more space available on facilitated commercial flights.

“This isn’t the end of the measures we’re putting in place, we thank you for your patience while we work through these arrangements.” 

There have been reports of Australians left stranded after Singapore shut its doors to UK arrivals this week. 

Jacob Marchett, 26, had just finished a two-year teaching contract and ended the lease on his home in order to travel back to Melbourne on Christmas Eve. But his flight with Singapore Airlines has now been cancelled. 

His family told The Sydney Morning Herald: "We just want our kid home for New Years and Christmas. We haven’t seen our son for two years. He would have gone into quarantine but he still would have been back."

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 11:10

Strong winds threaten Boxing Day transport disruption

The Met Office is warning that strong winds forecast on Boxing Day across the whole of England and Wales could cause transport disruption. 

Exposed coasts and hills could see winds of up to 80mph while 50-60mph is likely for many from 3pm on Saturday until midday on Sunday.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 11:23

Issues at the ports highlight what could be on the horizon in Brexit Britain | Editorial

No one now can be in any doubt about how vital the channel ports are to commerce on both sides, and how dangerous it will be when the current “frictionless trade” comes to an end.

Read the full editorial here: 

Editorial: The issues at the ports highlight what could be on the horizon in Brexit Britain

Editorial: No one now can be in any doubt about how vital the channel ports are to commerce for both the UK and the EU

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 11:42

Arrest in Dover amid clashes between drivers and police

A man has been arrested after disturbances in Dover and the nearby Manston lorry park.

The man is being held for obstructing a highway in Dover, Kent Police said.

A spokesman added: "Officers on the ground at both locations are working with partner agencies to make sure those hoping to travel to the continent adhere to the latest Government travel requirements regarding Covid testing."

Some lorry drivers clashed with police early on Wednesday in Dover as they continued to be held up because of the impact of the now-lifted French travel ban.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 11:50

Travel bans ‘largely ineffective’, says virologist

Imposing “onerous travel restrictions alone” is unlikely to make a significant impact on the spread of the virus, a virologist has argued.

Writing in The Guardian, Angela Rasmussen, of the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, said restrictions on transport “reflects a simplistic understanding of how viruses spread and evolve”.

She wrote: “Rather than harsh and largely ineffective travel bans, we should instead focus on encouraging compliance with proven interventions such as masking, distancing, avoiding crowds and enclosed spaces, avoiding gathering outside of one’s household or quarantine pod, and practising good hand hygiene.”

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 12:13

Calls for Northern Ireland airport to close due to coronavirus fears

Amid concern that City of Derry airport is being used by British travellers as a “back door” to the European Union, councillors in northwest Northern Ireland say the gateway should close to passengers to prevent “a grave risk” to local people, writes Simon Calder. 

Paul Gallagher and Gary Donnelly, both independents councillors, have secured an emergency meeting of Derry City and Strabane Council on 29 December to discuss the threat posed by the new variant of coronavirus – and the alleged behaviour of some travellers.

Here is the story: 

Calls for Northern Ireland airport to close due to coronavirus fears

Exclusive: ‘People who want travel to Europe… are flying into the north, going to Dublin airport and travelling to their holiday homes in France and Spain’

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 12:16

Finland cancels UK flights until 4 January

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom, has decided to suspend air passenger flights from the UK to Finland until 4 January. 

It said that due to the decision, many travellers’ return to Finland will be “difficult or prevented altogether”.

A statement on Finland’s Foreign Ministry website said: “Traficom decided to ban flights to prevent the spread of the new variant of coronavirus to Finland. The ban applies to all flights, including repatriation flights.  

”In the early phases of the pandemic in the spring, the government decided to organise repatriation flights because air traffic was suddenly suspended all over the world. 

"Now that people have been aware of the situation and the consequent travel recommendations for a long time, we are not planning repatriation flights.

"Travellers should primarily sort out their possibilities to return to Finland independently but, at present, it may be difficult to find any connections. 

“Many travellers may have to stay at their travel destination until passenger airlines resume their regular operations.”

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 12:25

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