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European nations begin to relax restrictions on people arriving from the UK

The Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria eased their restrictions and Eurostar passenger train traffic was resuming.


(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Some European countries have started relaxing travel restrictions on people arriving from the UK after a two-day blockade imposed because of a new variant of coronavirus.

Goods and passengers from the UK began arriving on French shores on Wednesday as a deal allowing truckers and travellers with a negative test to cross the Channel brought some relief

The Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria also relaxed travel restrictions and Eurostar passenger train traffic was resuming, but only for citizens of Europe’s border-free zone, British citizens with EU residency and those with a special reason to come temporarily, such as truckers.

However, dozens of other countries are continuing to bar travellers from the UK, and Japan announced it will reinstate an entry ban on most new arrivals from the country.

Nations around the world started barring people from the UK over the weekend after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that scientists had found that a new version of the virus in London and the South East may be more contagious.

People arriving from Britain are required to have a virus test capable of detecting the new variant, according to a late-night agreement reached after 48 hours of negotiations among French, British and EU authorities.

It was France’s ban on freight that caused the most alarm, since the UK relies heavily on its cross-Channel commercial links to the continent for food at this time of year, especially fresh fruit and vegetables.

French authorities insisted the blockade was based on scientific concerns and not politics, but many officials noted that the chaos at England’s Channel ports would be just a precursor to what Britain may face if it does not come to a trade agreement with the European Union before it leaves the bloc on December 31.

On Wednesday gridlock at the Port of Dover kept thousands of truckers and travellers stranded in the UK despite the relaxation, and some HGV drivers scuffled with police as huge queues of vehicles remained.

Online Editors