France has closed its borders to UK haulage and passengers, halting ferry and roro services between the two countries
All roro and passenger ferries have been stopped from sailing between French and UK ports across the Channel resulting in growing queues of lorries in both nations. This is anticipated to be at least a 48-hour travel ban on all journeys from the UK to France amid fears of a new strain of coronavirus emerging in southern England.
Cross-channel ferry services have been halted from UK ports, including Dover and Portsmouth, but container ship traffic continues to flow.
Other countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, have banned passenger travel, but enabled haulage on roro and ropax ships.
European Union member states are scheduled to meet in Brussels on 21 December to discuss a co-ordinated response to a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said his team was speaking with French counterparts to reopen routes for lorries, but passenger journeys are unlikely to be enabled.
Mr Shapps told BBC news this travel ban does not affect unaccompanied trade, such as containers, which represent 80% of goods entering the UK.
But this has not stopped concerns about the availability of goods in the UK and British exports by the Food and Drink Federation.
The French border closure has resulted in lines of lorries forming across motorways heading to UK ports, in particular to Dover. Kent Police has introduced Operation Stack to queue lorries on the M20 towards Dover during this disruption.
Authorities are also opening disused Manston Airport in Kent to take 4,000 lorries to ease congestion in the county.
Queues of lorries are also forming in Calais and Dunkerque in France as traffic piles up in Hauts-de-France.
There is no certainty over when the travel ban on haulage will be lifted, with fears this 48-hour ferry service stoppage could be extended.
Coronavirus cases have nearly doubled in the UK over the weekend and travel restrictions were enforced in southeast England.
A new strain of Covid-19 was identified in Kent in October and has spread more rapidly than previous variants, leading to many European countries introducing travel bans for passengers from the UK.