Europe isolates the UK as Covid-19 cases touch new news from around the world

Several European countries banned flights and freight connections with the UK on Sunday as the new Covid-19 variant increased the number of new cases to a record daily high of 35,928 and the lack of an agreement with the EU increased the uncertainty and urgency of the EU post-Brexit Phase in 10 days from January 1st.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first ministry, has called for the Brexit transition period to be extended, which ends on December 31, a call that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far opposed.

She said: “It is now imperative that the Prime Minister seek an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period. The new strain of Covid – and its various effects – mean that we are facing an extremely serious situation and require our 100% attention. It would be incomprehensible to link it to Brexit. “

France banned freight traffic through the Eurotunnel for 48 hours starting Sunday evening due to concerns about the spread of the new Covid-19 variant, which led to the closure of the port of Dover, which could lead to what the industry has described as “devastating”. Air traffic with Great Britain was also suspended for 48 hours.

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Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association said: “It’s only been 48 hours but the French ban will have devastating effects on the supply chain. We have seen in the past few days that the queues on both sides of the canal due to stockpiling due to Brexit and the holiday season and now border closings mean everything, including perishable food, will be affected. “

“We depend on the short roads for our daily supplies. We talk about everything: factory parts, fresh and frozen vegetables, and all Christmas deliveries, ”he added.

Other European countries such as Ireland, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands also banned flights to and from the UK, while others considered doing so. The Eurostar trains to Belgium are not running, while Eurotunnel blocked access to the Folkestone Terminal for traffic and freight to Calais.

Johnson is expected to hold an emergency COBRA meeting on Monday morning as the virus-related crisis is likely to be exacerbated by uncertainty over trade and other agreements if the Brexit transition period ends on December 31. The talks in Brussels have yet to be concluded.

The developments were triggered after a new lockdown was imposed on London and the south-east of England on Sunday morning and British Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared within a few hours that the new variant of the virus was “out of control”.

The Port of Dover – one of the main entry points for trade and road traffic with Europe – said in a statement: “Due to border restrictions in France, access to the ferry terminal in the Port of Dover will remain closed to all escorted traffic leaving the UK until further”.

Developments raised concerns about a possible disruption to the food supply as the UK imports much of its food from Europe under smooth, duty-free trade agreements that have existed for decades during its membership of the European Union, which ends on December 31st.

Ian Wright, chairman of the Food and Drink Federation, warned on Sunday: “Today’s suspension of escorted goods traffic from Great Britain to France could seriously affect the supply of fresh food for Christmas in Great Britain – and the export of food and drink from Great Britain.”

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“Continental truckers won’t want to travel here if they’re really scared of getting stranded. The government urgently needs to convince the French government to exempt escorted cargo from its ban, ”he added.

The freight industry lobby group, Logistics UK, urged customers to remain calm, stating that they are “in close contact with the UK government to ensure that supplies of fresh produce are available during Christmas and New Years”.

The UK retail consortium also appealed to the government to find a solution, but added that there should be no immediate bottlenecks as “retailers have goods in stock before Christmas that should prevent immediate problems”.