France and its EU neighbours are scrambling to thrash out a coordinated plan in response to a new strain of Covid-19 that has blocked trade and air travel to the UK and left hundreds of freight trucks banked up outside the border with France. France 24’s Herve Amoric filed this report from Dover.
At the British port of Dover, hundreds of trucks are queued at a near standstill unable to leave after the EU on Sunday halted trade and travel amid the emergence of a new coronavirus strain. Concern over the mutated strain has unleashed chaos for travellers, producers and freight companies with fears of major disruptions to supply chains just ahead of Christmas.
For truck drivers stranded in Dover there is little to do but wait.
One driver carrying shellfish bound for France said he was unable to board a ferry but managed to get his cargo delivered via a company in Calais.
“There’s a lot of extra involvement from finding company and to get details and make sure the store and clients all there to get freight off,” Damian Doherty, a truck driver from Ireland, told FRANCE 24.
European leaders, meanwhile, are expected to meet Tuesday to work out a way of lifting the border restrictions with Britain which could include involve requiring coronavirus tests on arrivals.
The 48-hour blockade comes just as companies are racing to shift products before Britain exits EU trade structures on January 1.
Major supermarkets have warned of potential shortages of food ahead of Christmas festivities if the ban is not soon lifted.
Yet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reassured the public that supply chains are “strong and robust” with delays hitting only a “small percentage of food entering the UK”.