“Mutant” virus ban prompts shutdown at Port of Dover, France closes its borders with the UK

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Restrictions were put in place for 48 hours from midnight on Sunday. SSPO says it’s “very concerned for Scotland’s salmon exports”.

On Saturday, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock scrapped Christmas plans after a lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England. He warned that a new strain of the coronavirus was “out of control”, as reported in the BBC.

In response, France has halted lorry movements from the UK. Furthermore, the port of Dover has been closed to all vehicle traffic leaving the UK for the next 48 hours. This has created a three-mile plus gridlock in the area.

In a statement, the Port of Dover said that due to border restrictions in France access to the Ferry Terminal at the Port of Dover remains suspended to all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice.

“Accompanied freight and passenger customers are asked not to travel to the Port. Unaccompanied traffic continues to be allowed into France. We understand that the restrictions will be in place for 48 hours from midnight (CET),” it wrote.

Operation Stack is in place, it added. This is a procedure used by Kent Police and the Port of Dover in England to park (or “stack”) lorries on the M20 motorway in Kent when services across the English Channel, such as those through the Channel Tunnel or from the Port of Dover, are severely disrupted.

The latest update from the UK Department for Transport has reinforced a message to hauliers that they should “avoid travelling to Kent until further notice”.

SalmonBusiness understands that drivers can still enter the UK, but the potential issue is that they cannot go back to France for 48 hours. But the issue is truck companies can run out of drivers.

France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Croatia and the Netherlands have all said they will halt flights arriving from the UK.

SSPO Chief Executive Tavish Scott expressed concerns that the ban will severely disrupt the UK’s number one food export.

He tweeted that he was “very concerned for Scotland’s salmon exports to Europe by tonight’s closure of freight into France. Reviewing impact on sector.”

In a statement on Twitter, the SSPO said: “We are deeply concerned by this extremely disruptive suspension of freight routes to France for 48 hours. Europe is a key market for Scottish salmon and we expect the Government to explore all options for resuming trade, including the testing of drivers.

“In 2019 Scottish farmers exported GBP 221 million worth of salmon to France (some 35,672 tonnes), helping make Scottish salmon the UK’s number one food export that year,” it added.