France is expected to reopen its border with the UK, but only to its own nationals, French residents and professionals such as truck drivers, all of whom will have to provide a recent negative test, the French public broadcaster reported.
Britons or other non-French nationals with permanent residence in France will be able to return, but the border is expected to remain closed to all other non-French citizens in the UK, France Info said. It was not yet clear how long the measures would be in place.
The announcement comes as the European Commission has advised the 27 member states to end bans on flights and trains from the UK and reopen freight routes to “ensure critical supply chains continue to function ”, including for Covid vaccines. The restrictions were introduced to reduce the spread of a new variant of coronavirus discovered in the UK.
The EU’s executive branch said UK nationals still have the right to move freely until January 1 and “should be exempt from further temporary restrictions on condition that they are subjected to testing or quarantine “.
Freight flows “must continue without interruption … in particular to ensure the timely distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines,” the committee said. Brussels has warned, however, that at the end of the transition period only “essential” travel will be allowed unless member states add the UK to a list of countries exempt from restrictions.
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: ‘In view of the current uncertainties and in light of the precautionary principle, Member States should take coordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU .
“At the same time, general travel bans should not prevent thousands of European and British citizens from returning home.”
The new French rules, intended to counter the spread of the new, faster-spreading variant, are expected to be officially announced this afternoon, France Info said, citing government sources.
He said French President Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson spoke by phone Tuesday morning about measures to ease chaos in British ports after France’s decision on Sunday to close its border to all traffic in from UK for 48 hours.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said earlier on Tuesday that the government is talking to French authorities to test all carriers leaving Britain to allow freight and passengers to travel again.
She confirmed that more than 1,500 trucks were stranded in Kent on Tuesday morning. The queues have formed since France banned all freight or accompanied cargo entering the country from Britain, triggering government crisis plans in Dover and other major pinch points.
Patel told BBC Breakfast: “Some sort of test is part of the discussions the transport secretary is currently having with his counterpart in France.
“Setting up and running these tests can be done fairly quickly, but in terms of the details, this is something the Secretary of Transportation and his counterpart will be discussing at this time, so I don’t want to speculate on the nature of the tests. and how long it can be operational, ”she said.
Patel was asked about Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ claim at a Downing Street press conference on Monday night that there were only around 170 trucks waiting to cross the Channel, only to be next contradicted by Highways England, who said there were around 900.
She said the number of trucks would “fluctuate” but that Tuesday morning there were 650 on the M20 and an additional 873 at Manston Airfield, which is being used as a backflow site to ease delays.
She added: “So, for example, yesterday there would have been many carriers dropping off their goods in other parts of the country and then going back down to Dover. Of course, the # 1 message was to avoid Dover.
Patel said British and French authorities were working on a resolution to unblock the ports and Shapps could give a further update later on Tuesday.
She told Sky News: “It’s in our interest both in both countries to make sure we have a flow and of course there are European carriers right now who want to go home, and quite frankly, it is in our best interests to continue. these discussions and negotiations and we will see what happens today.
Concerns over well-being of truck drivers waiting to cross the English Channel, with professional body saying drivers received only one cereal bar each while stuck in their cab for more than 24 hours .
Rod McKenzie, Managing Director of the Road Haulage Association, told BBC Breakfast: “It is clear these drivers spent a second night parked somewhere, maybe on a freeway, maybe somewhere else, trying to cross the road. Channel, and many of them are European drivers are trying to get home for Christmas and their morale is very low.
“Yesterday Kent County Council gave them each a cereal bar, which is a pretty poor effort, I think, to keep their spirits up and their morale up.
McKenzie said sanitation facilities were a “big deal” as well, with concerns about health and cleanliness. “We don’t treat them well as a country, we don’t treat the truck drivers well in these very difficult conditions they find themselves in now.”