COVID-19: Boris Johnson to hold crisis talks after several EU countries closed borders to UK

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will today, Monday chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee after several European countries ended flights and closed their borders to the UK amid fears over the new COVID-19 strain.

The meeting of the COBRA civil contingencies committee comes amid warnings of “significant disruption” around the ports in the English Channel, with tailbacks going back miles into the southeastern English county of Kent.

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Hauliers were urged to stay away from the area amid warnings of potential problems as the end of the Brexit transition period looms on December 31.

Countries including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and Bulgaria announced restrictions on UK travel following the disclosure that the highly infectious new strain is widespread across south-east England.

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With France suspending all traffic from the UK for 48 hours, it raised fears that trade flows could be severely disrupted while passengers across Europe could be left stranded in the final run-up to Christmas.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister will chair a Cobra meeting on Monday to discuss the situation regarding international travel, in particular the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK.

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“Further meetings are happening this evening and tomorrow morning to ensure robust plans are in place.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged people including hauliers to stay away from the area around the Channel ports.

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“We expect significant disruption in the area. My department is urgently working with Highways England and Kent Council on contingency measures to minimise traffic disruption in the area,” he said.

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