Channel ports closed to freight as France implements UK travel ban

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France has imposed a 48 hour travel ban on all UK nationals travelling to France, including HGV drivers, in a move which has seen the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel suspend all services for freight.

Yesterday France – which is in national lockdown – said it was restricting travel from the UK from midnight CET on Sunday 20 December, for a duration of 48 hours. This travel restriction applies to all air, car, ferry and train passengers.

The Port of Dover said that as a result access to the Ferry Terminal was suspended for all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice. Operation Stack phase 2 – which sees freight separated into two queues on either side of the coastbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 – has now been implemented.

Eurotunnel Folkestone terminal is currently suspended for passenger and freight traffic for the same period.

Alex Veitch, General Manager at Logistics UK (formerly the FTA) said it was very concerned about the welfare of drivers travelling from the UK to France at this time.

“Driver health and safety is our key concern, and it is essential that they continue to be recognised as key workers and given access to testing, if necessary, as a priority to ensure the continued movement of goods to and from France.”

He also said that shoppers should not panic buy: “Retailers will be making every effort to ensure there is stock within the system, including fresh produce,  and it is important that we remember that inbound traffic still has access to the UK.”

Meanwhile Portsmouth International Port has said: “Due to current travel restrictions in France only unaccompanied freight has permission to sail. Passengers and accompanied freight vehicles are advised not to travel to Portsmouth as they will be unable to sail as planned.”

Following the announcement that parts of England would move into tier four over the weekend, new travel advice was published by Ireland, which said that ferry crossings between Ireland and Great Britain would continue for freight, but not passengers.

Ireland has also issued a flight ban for Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 December, which will be reviewed on Tuesday 22 December. It affects people in Great Britain regardless of nationality but essential supply chain workers are exempt.

The Dutch government has banned all air passenger flights between the UK and the Netherlands from 0600 (CET) on Sunday 20 December 2020 to 1 January 2021 but the ban does not apply to freight movements.

The Belgian government has announced it will close the borders between the UK and Belgium from 00:01 on 21 December 2020 for at least 24 hours.

Meanwhile the German government has banned all air passenger flights between the UK and Germany from 23:00 (UK time) on Sunday 20 December to 23:00 (UK time) on Thursday 31 December. The ban does not currently apply to other forms of transport, but the Foreign Office advises that further restrictions may be introduced with little notice.

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