France has temporarily closed its borders to both people and accompanied goods due to the new coronavirus strain that was detected in the UK. Both Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover are closed, while operation stack has been activated on the M20.
The border closure will last for 48 hours and is intended to to give the authorities time to decide what measures need to be taken to address the threat presented by the new strain. Other countries in Europe have also implemented travel bans to and from the UK, though they have not gone as far as to block road freight.
The UK Department for Transport has urged hauliers to avoid Kent as a result of the disruption. Both the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel will be closed for a 48-hour period as a result of the France’s announcement.
The Port of Dover ferry terminal is now closed to all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice. Operation Stack phase 2 has now been implemented.
— Port of Dover Travel (@PoD_travelnews) December 20, 2020
According to a statement by Kent County Council, the Manston site, a former airport turned into a lorry park ahead of Brexit, could be deployed in order to deal with the congestion.
Operation Stack has also been brought in to deal with the disruption caused by the lorries that had planned to make deliveries to the EU before the border shut.
#M20 is closed from Junction 8-11 including all entry slips at Junction 8, 9, 10 and 10a. This is to facilitate Operation Stack due to the 48 hour closure of the French borders. Updates to follow
— Highways England (@HighwaysSEAST) December 21, 2020
The BBC reports that unaccompanied freight, such as containers or lorry trailers on their own can still be transported from the UK to France, but vans, lorries and trucks are banned. Hauliers have been advised to find other routes into the EU.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency cabinet meeting today in order to find a solution to the problems presented by the border closure and the new coronavirus strain.