Travel chaos as trains and motorways loaded with people escaping London for Christmas
On Monday, India joined much of Europe, the Middle East and Asia in banning arrivals after Boris Johnson warned at the weekend that the new Covid mutation was highly transmissible.
The move has sparked panic over global supply chains and fresh food imports to Britain, and left passengers stranded in the lead up to Christmas.
UK in contact with France over border closure
Downing Street said the UK government was in contact with the French authorities about the ban on lorries crossing the channel.
Asked whether Boris Johnson believed the French action was justified, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously working incredibly closely with our international partners and are working urgently to minimise the disruption as far as possible.”
The spokesman added that “we are in close contact with the French to try and get this resolved”.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 13:44
US flight ban? ‘Everything is possible,’ says official
Brett Giroir, the US assistant secretary for health, said “everything is possible” when it comes to whether the Trump administration would implement a travel ban on flights coming from the UK.
“We’re waiting for CDC recommendations. Last night, talking to Dr [Robert] Redfield [the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] there was not a recommendation for that. Every hour we get more information. We need to listen to the best experts … but as of now I have no new updates on that.
“I think everything needs to be on the table. We need to look at the data, we need to examine the science, understand the risks and then make a decision. Everything is possible.”
He said the new strain was not any more lethal or any more dangerous than the current coronavirus. And he said there was no evidence that it would affect the vaccines being rolled out.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 13:31
Latin America travel bans
While European travel bans have dominated, Latin American nations have also moved to limit their exposure to the new Covid strain identified in the UK.
Argentina, Chile and Colombia have all suspended direct flights to and from the UK, while El Salvador has banned anyone entering the country from Britain.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 13:21
Are international train and ferry links running from the UK?
Eurostar said it was unable to run trains from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille or Amsterdam on Monday or Tuesday.
Trains in the opposite direction, to London from Paris, will continue to operate, with the rail company saying it planned to resume services to and from the UK on Wednesday.
Eurotunnel said access to its UK site was prohibited from 10pm after its last train left at 9.34pm.
Dover’s ferry terminal has also closed to “all accompanied traffic leaving the UK” after France moved to shut its border.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 13:17
Kuwait to close
Kuwait is to close its border and ban all international commercial flights until 2021.
Land crossings, airports and seaports will shut from tonight until 1 January, the government said.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 13:14
UK vaccine programme unaffected by freight ban
The Covid-19 vaccination programme will not be affected by France’s ban on UK freight lorries, the Transport Secretary has said.
Grant Shapps said disruption around the Channel ports in Kent “won’t have an impact” on the UK’s supply of the coronavirus vaccine as contingency plans were in place.
He told BBC Breakfast on Monday that while a “precious few lorries” did transport the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, it was mostly imported in containers not affected by the restrictions.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 13:05
Could the US ban UK flights?
The US State Department has said that its travel advisory for Britain remains unchanged at Level 3 – a “reconsider travel” alert that is one below a level 4 “do not travel” warning.
Guidance on the State Department website says: “United Kingdom transportation options are still limited but continuing to operate.”
However the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, has said he wanted a ban on flights from Britain to New York City because of the new strain.
“Right now, this variant in the UK is getting on a plane and flying to JFK,” he was quoted by the Washington Post as having said.
His call for action follows just days after Donald Trump was rumoured to be considering relaxing current travel restrictions that prohibit most people in the UK from travelling to the US.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 12:50
Stena Line brings forward doubling of Ireland-France freight route
Ferry firm Stena Line has brought forward a planned doubling of its direct Ireland to France freight service in response to “huge demand” from Irish hauliers hit by the closure of the French border to arrivals from Britain.
While freight services were exempt from Ireland’s ban on Sunday on travel to Britain over fears of a new coronavirus strain, around 3,000 lorries take the shorter route to mainland Europe via the so-called British “land-bridge” each week.
Stena had planned to add a second ship to its service from Ireland’s Rosslare harbour to the French port of Cherbourg from 4 January, doubling the number of weekly sailings to six as Britain’s Brexit transition period came to an end.
The service will instead commence from Tuesday, the ferry company said.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 12:40
Can you still travel abroad?
Boris Johnson announced on 19 December that sweeping new travel restrictions would come into effect from the morning of 20 December.
Here’s our travel editor, Qin Xie, on what you need to know about how it affects travel:
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 12:36
Tunisia and Jordan join UK travel ban
Tunisia and Jordan have joined the rapidly expanding list of countries banning flights from the UK.
Tunisia’s ministry of transport said that all flights arriving, departing and transiting between Tunisian airports and the UK, South Africa and Australia would be suspended.
Those travellers who reside in or passed through those countries would not be permitted entry.
The restrictions would be in place until further notice, the ministry said in a Facebook post.
Jordan also announced it was suspending flights to and from the UK until 3 January.
Tom Batchelor21 December 2020 12:33