Dover’s ferry terminal has closed to “all accompanied traffic leaving the UK” after France moved to shut its border.
French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tweeted on Sunday that the country was suspending all traffic from the UK from midnight for at least 48 hours.
It comes as nations across Europe moved to halt inbound flights from the UK in a bid to prevent the spread of a coronavirus mutation sweeping through London and the south east of England.
The Port of Dover tweeted on Sunday night that its ferry terminal was “closed to all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice due to border restrictions in France”.
FERRY TERMINAL AT THE PORT OF DOVER IS CLOSED TO ALL ACCOMPANIED TRAFFIC LEAVING THE UK UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO BORDER RESTRICTIONS IN FRANCE. Further info – https://t.co/7qPmvbiRVs
— Port of Dover Travel (@PoD_travelnews) December 20, 2020
On its website it added: “Both accompanied freight and passenger customers are asked not to travel to the Port.
“We understand that the restrictions will be in place for 48 hours from midnight (CET).
“We apologise for the inconvenience and will provide an update as soon as possible.”
It added: “Port of Dover Cargo Terminal, Marina and other areas of the Port remain open.”
Meanwhile, Eurotunnel tweeted that its last shuttle service departing for France would leave at 9.34pm, with access to its UK site prohibited from 10pm.
URGENT: UK-France border closes 23:00 GMT tonight. Last shuttle UK-FR is 21:34 GMT, please check in on time. Access to UK site prohibited from 22:00 GMT.
Amend most bookings using MyEurotunnel: https://t.co/J4wvRBWE64
— Eurotunnel Le Shuttle (@LeShuttle) December 20, 2020
Rod McKenzie, from the Road Haulage Association, told Sky News that 10,000 lorries a day crossed between Dover and Calais in France.
He added: “Brexit stockpiling is one thing, the Christmas rush is another thing, but the absolute hammer blow now is to close the borders for 48 hours.
“That is a serious disruption of the all important supply chain.”
Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, which is based in Tunbridge Wells, tweeted: “Logistics UK is aware of news that accompanied freight to France is being not allowed for 48 hours; we are concerned about the welfare of drivers and we are urgently seeking more information for our members.”
The Food and Drink Federation urged ministers to ask the French government to exempt accompanied freight from its travel ban.
CEO Ian Wright said: “Tonight’s suspension of accompanied freight traffic from the UK to France has the potential to cause serious disruption to UK Christmas fresh food supplies and exports of UK food and drink.
“Continental truckers will not want to travel here if they have a real fear of getting marooned.
“The Government must very urgently persuade the French government to exempt accompanied freight from its ban.”
The Belgian government also announced its borders with the UK will close at midnight on Sunday.
The Eurostar rail service said on its website on Sunday evening that due to the French and Belgian border closures with the UK it was unable to run any trains from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille or Amsterdam on Monday or Tuesday.
It added: “We are also unable to run trains from Amsterdam, Brussels and Lille to London on these dates.
“We can confirm that our trains will continue to operate from Paris to London.
“The plan is to resume all our train services to and from the UK on Wednesday 23rd December.”
It said it was awaiting further details from relevant governments on how travel restrictions will be enforced.