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UK, France plan to restart freight

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France shut its border with the UK for 48 hours on Sunday over the UK’s new coronavirus variant

Lorry drivers in Kent have spent a second night sleeping in their vehicles waiting for the border with France to reopen – as politicians thrash out a plan to restart trade and travel.

France shut the border for 48 hours on Sunday over the UK’s new virus variant.

The government said 945 lorries were stacked up near Dover on Monday night – but the number now seems to be much higher, said BBC reporter Simon Jones.

More than 40 countries have now banned UK arrivals from the UK.

And EU countries are talking about how to form a united response, amid fears over the virus mutation.

The UK’s top scientist Sir Patrick Vallance has warned the new variant is now “everywhere” – and more areas may need to enter tier four to curb its spread.

He predicted there would be a spike in cases after Christmas, and restrictions might “need to be increased in some places”.

Dozens of countries, including Spain, France and India, have banned UK flights after parts of England, including London, entered tough tier four – “stay at home” – restrictions.

Plans on how to restart freight – to be agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron – will be announced later and come into effect from Wednesday, France’s Europe Minister Clément Beaune said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said there was “zero evidence at this point” that the new variant of coronavirus discovered in the UK causes “any increase in severity associated with” Covid-19.

It urged the public to continue with measures known to reduce the spread: hand washing, social distancing, and wearing face coverings.

Royal Mail said it has temporarily suspended all mail services to Europe, with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, due to travel restrictions.

The disruption also affected passenger services – with many air, rail and sea services cancelled between the UK and France, as well as other countries that have put restrictions in place.

Rail operator Eurotunnel said it hoped passengers would be able to travel between the UK and France from Wednesday or Thursday, if a solution is agreed.

British Airways said it would operate “a reduced and dynamic schedule” amid the uncertainty.

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