temporarily closed its ports to ro/ro ferry traffic from the UK, one of dozens
of measures taken by national governments to prevent the spread of a mutated
variant of COVID-19 that has emerged in southern England. Based upon modeling,
British scientists believe that the variant may be as much as 70 percent more
infectious than the base version of the virus.
The cross-channel ferry closure has stranded thousands of trucks and
ferry closure has stranded thousands of trucks and cargo shipments outside of
Britain's key ro/ro terminal, the Port of Dover. During the holiday season in
any other year, about 10,000 trucks would normally pass through the port each
day on their way between the UK and France.
thousands of trucks were stacking up on the M20 motorway outside of Dover as
local police work to manage a flood of stalled freight. The UK Department for
Transport (DfT) is preparing space at a nearby airport in Kent, where it
expects to accept up to 4,000 trucks for temporary storage.
Accompanied freight and passenger customers asked not to travel to the
freight and passenger customers are asked not to travel to the port," the
Port of Dover said in an alert Sunday. "Unaccompanied [freight] traffic
continues to be allowed into France . . . All traffic into the UK is currently
unaffected by those restrictions (subject to pre-existing travel constraints
The shutdown is
limited to 48 hours, but this could be enough to affect perishables, according
At the Port of Portsmouth, operations running smoothly by
disconnecting the freight trailer from the semi truck
The Port of
Newhaven, which hosts one ferry connection to Dieppe, reported Monday that it
has not experienced freight traffic congestion despite the shutdown for
outbound truck movement. At the Port of Portsmouth, port officials said that
they were keeping operations running smoothly by disconnecting the freight
trailer from the semi truck, sending the cargo on its way across the Channel
without the driver. "We have the ability to put the trailer onboard
without the cab, which is something they cannot do in Dover," Portsmouth
City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson told local media. "So we are
continuing to send lorries across to France, when Dover cannot."
Lift-on / lift-off
containerized freight and breakbulk operations also continue uninterrupted
between the UK and France.