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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.  



Christmas hopes fade for lorry drivers stuck in Kent

Lorry drivers fear they will not make it home in time for Christmas as they remain stuck in Kent despite France reopening its borders.

The backlog of 5,000 HGVs is expected to take days to clear as drivers are required to take a Covid-19 test before they can cross the Channel.

France eased its travel ban on Wednesday, but said those seeking entry into the country from the UK must have proof of a negative coronavirus result taken in the past 72 hours.

The Department for Transport said 3,800 lorries were parked on the Manston airfield as of this morning.

Chiara Giordano23 December 2020 14:45

Lorry driver says stranded truckers forced to wait two hours in rain for food

Polish lorry driver Greg Baranski, 39, has been waiting at a Department for Transport-run disused airfield site at Manston, in Kent, for the past two days and is eager to return home.

He told the PA news agency: "My situation is not nice. I've been waiting here for about two days, and we do not know what will happen next.

"We are waiting for a test for coronavirus, after when we are negative we can go to Dover and pass the channel and go back home.

"But it is too late now, because of Christmas coming after tomorrow. That means it doesn't matter for us, 100 per cent now we won't make it home for Christmas.

"I'm not happy. My family are waiting for me but probably I will be home after Christmas."

Mr Baranski claimed there were just two food trucks available and drivers were having to wait around two hours in the rain for a meal.

Chiara Giordano23 December 2020 15:06

Nine-day strike by British Airways cargo workers to go ahead

A nine-day strike by British Airways cargo workers is to go ahead from Christmas Day after talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay and conditions.

Unite said the walkout will disrupt BA's ability to bring goods into the UK.

Strike action will begin on Friday and end on 2 January.

Unite said its members, mainly based at Heathrow, faced "deep cuts" to their pay of between £5,000 and £11,000 a year, as well as inferior conditions.

BA said half of cargo workers' salaries would rise, with no-one else taking more than a 10 per cent pay cut.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 15:11

Germans airlift food supplies to Yorkshire

In a scenario that has been called “a mirror image of the Berlin airlift” during the Cold War, Germany has flown 80 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables from Frankfurt to Yorkshire.

A Lufthansa Boeing 777 cargo plane from the airline’s hub touched down at Doncaster-Sheffield airport this afternoon with lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus fruit destined for major supermarkets.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has the full story:

Germans airlifting food to Yorkshire due to Channel blockage

Lufthansa jet loaded with lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus fruit for Aldi, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco

Chiara Giordano23 December 2020 15:17

New South Africa variant leads to fresh travel ban

Two cases of another new strain of Covid-19 linked to South Africa have been identified in the UK, Matt Hancock said.

The health secretary said both cases and close contacts of the cases have been quarantined, there are immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa and the government is telling those who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Africa in the last fortnight that they must quarantine.

He added: "These measures are temporary while we investigate further this new strain which is shortly to be analysed at Porton Down."

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 15:26

Coronavirus testing facilities ‘arrive at Dover’

What is thought to be coronavirus testing facilities have arrived at the Port of Dover, the PA news agency reports.

Escorted by police, a number of vehicles drove into the eastern docks car park, with drivers wearing jackets with NHS Test and Trace branding.

Among the convoy was a coach carrying P&O Ferries staff.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 15:40

South Africa Covid variant causes fresh travel woes

News that another new coronavirus variant – this one linked to South Africa – has been found in the UK has led to fresh travel restrictions on the country.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder tweets:

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 15:50

New York orders UK arrivals to quarantine

New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has said people arriving from the UK must now quarantine, with officers to conduct door knocks on homes and hotels to ensure travellers are complying with the new rule.

"This will be a personal and direct order to every single one of them telling them they must quarantine," the mayor said. "People are going to be held responsible."

Travellers will face a $1,000 fine for each day they flout the rules, NBC New York reported.

Tom Batchelor23 December 2020 16:05

Self-isolation guidance issued to travellers arriving in NI

Anyone returning to Northern Ireland for the festive season should be self-isolating on Christmas Day under the terms of guidance issued by Stormont.

The advice, published by the executive, comes after ministers agreed earlier this week to recommend against any non-essential travel between Northern Ireland and both Great Britain and the Irish Republic.

The executive also agreed to advice that anyone arriving in Northern Ireland, who is staying for more than 24 hours, must isolate for 10 days. It applies to anyone who has arrived since 22 December.

People who intend to leave the region before 10 days elapse can do so.

Chiara Giordano23 December 2020 16:32

Another lorry driver led away by police after Dover scuffle

Tensions have begun to flare once more between a group of hauliers and police at the Port of Dover, with one lorry driver led away by officers following a scuffle.

Chiara Giordano23 December 2020 16:54

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