More countries banned travel from the UK on Monday amid concern over a more infectious strain of Covid-19 as French restrictions curtailed freight transport across the English Channel.
The closure of the borders came at the most inconvenient time, when the number of shipments is increasing due to Christmas and pre-supply due to concerns about Brexit. Hundreds of Czech trucks are in a difficult situation at the borders on both sides.
Normally about 10,000 lorries a day pass through Dover alone and the haulage industry is expressing alarm over supermarket supplies.
France’s decision to block lorries arriving from the UK for 48 hours will have a “devastating effect” on the supply of food and other consumer goods to Britain, industry representatives have warned.
“We depend on the short straits for our daily supplies. What we are talking about is everything: factory parts, fresh and frozen vegetables, and all the Christmas deliveries,” says Rod McKenzie, policy director at the Road Haulage Association.
Poland and Turkey joined countries including Germany, France, Italy, and Ireland that were among the first on Sunday to bar people coming from the UK after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
Belgium, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and India are among those to also block UK arrivals.
The Czech Republic is stopping flight arrivals from Britain as of noon today.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new variant of the virus – which may be up to 70% more transmissible – is “getting out of control”.
The new variant has spread quickly in London and south-east England, but health officials say there is no evidence that it is more deadly or would react differently to vaccines.