France and Britain reopened cross-Channel travel

Dec 23 (AFP/APP): France and Britain reopened cross-Channel travel on Wednesday after a 48-hour ban to curb the spread of a new coronavirus variant but thousands of truckers faced being stranded for days near the port of Dover.

The major transit hub reopened following an agreement between London and Paris to allow hauliers stuck in the UK to leave the country if they could produce a negative coronavirus test that was less than 72 hours old.

“It will take a few days to work our way through,” Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News.

“There’s going to be quite a lot of work to do.” Much of Europe had swiftly banned British travelers following the emergence in Britain of a variant of Covid-19 believed to be more transmissible, and France’s decision to block freight movements sparked fears of food shortages.

Germany’s Lufthansa said it would airlift fresh fruit and vegetables to Britain with traffic log-jammed at the south coast port for days to come.

As dramatic images showed masses of lorries backed up in Dover, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under intense pressure to resolve the deadlock — even as 11th-hour talks with Brussels on a post-Brexit trade deal continued.

Jenrick said a total of around 4,000 trucks were stranded in Dover and overall in the southern county of Kent. Between 700 and 800 were parked alongside the motorway heading out of London via Kent and around 3,000 were at the nearby disused airport of Manston where drivers are to be tested.

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Travel Ban on UK Citizens Began Easing