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Thousands of trucks mass at Dover in cross-Channel chaos

Thousands of trucks mass at Dover in cross-Channel chaos

There is chaos at Britain's most vital trading route after France took the emergency step of banning travellers and hauliers from the United Kingdom for at least 48 hours in response to the outbreak of the new variant of the coronavirus.

"We have been here two days already and I worked out it will take another two days to sort all this out".

Thousands of truck drivers are being held at an airfield awaiting coronavirus tests to allow them to cross into France, after the British and French governments reached an agreement late Tuesday to reopen the border.

The UK government is reported to be offering drivers a bottle of water on arrival at the Manston in-land parking facility, an overspill site for the port of Dover where lorries are being directed, with toilets also on site.

After turning parts of southern England into a vast truck parking lot by closing the border to incoming freight, France opened its border on Wednesday to truckers who have a negative COVID test that is less than 72 hours old.

Eurotunnel said around around 700 cars, 50 vans and 20 trucks have been able to cross the Channel since this morning, and a "flow" of trucks has arrived at the British terminal since 16:00 GMT.

Drivers and their vehicles were still stick at the port of Dover, in Kent, south east England. Some truck drivers could be seen scuffling with police.

The virus is blamed for 1.7 million deaths worldwide, including about 68,000 in Britain, the second-highest death toll in Europe, behind Italy's 69,000.

These restrictions will remain in place until January 6, when they will be reviewed.

France's temporary ban on hauliers caused concern that the United Kingdom could face shortages of some fresh food products over a Christmas period already dampened by strict coronavirus restrictions.

Thousands of trucks mass at Dover in cross-Channel chaos

Mr Johnson and the ministers debated moving other areas in the country into Tier 4 in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Many Britons were already bracing for disruption, if the United Kingdom and the EU can't agree on a new trade deal by the time the country leaves the bloc's tariff-free single market and customs union in just over a week.

The chaos comes just 10 days before the end of the Brexit transition period when new checks on trade with the European Union are set to cause significant disruption at Britain's ports. Christmas week's mayhem, however, was caused by the coronavirus.

French authorities have insisted that this week's blockade was based on scientific concerns and not politics, but some noted it may have offered a glimpse of what Britain can expect next year.

The border crisis comes as the United Kingdom is just two weeks away from completely exiting the EU's rules and regulations while Brexit trade talks remain deadlocked over key areas of disagreement.

Following France's easing of travel restrictions, the EU's executive committee called on member states to lift the blanket ban on air and rail travel.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick estimated that at least 4,000 trucks were parked around the Kent region and said the military would manage testing sites, including one at Manston airport, where numerous trucks are located.

NHS Test and Trace staff and the military will be deployed for testing.

Footage showed a handful of officers attempting to push back a crowd of protesting drivers in Dover.

Authorities in the United Kingdom tightened lockdown rules overnight, with 24 million people ordered to stay at home under Tier 4 lockdown rules.