The French transport minister has indicated that a hastily applied 48-hour ban on British trucks entering France could be lifted within hours once appropriate health & safety protocol has been implemented.
France, along with a long list of other nations, has banned all passengers from entering the country following Boris Johnson's announcement that London, much of East and South East of England would be placed under tougher Tier 4 restrictions as a mutant, more contagious (though not necessarily more dangerous) form of the COVID-19 virus was found in the region.
However France surprised the UK with a 48-hour ban on lorries (it was still allowing unaccompanied freight) prompting fears of shortages of food and other goods. While lorries were still allowed to arrive from France, lorries heading to France are often empty and return full with vital suppliers.
Grocer Sainsbury's warned that the decision could lead to supermarket shelves being empty of some vegetables and citrus fruit as these items are imported from Europe at this time of year.
The truck ban has caused chaos at UK ports and the UK's transport minster Grant Schapps has pressed France to lift the ban, which he admitted the UK had not been expecting.
However his French counterpart Jean-Baptiste Djebarri has Tweeted: “In the coming hours, at European level, we will be putting in place a solid health protocol so that flows from the United Kingdom can resume. Our priority: protect our nationals and fellow citizens.”
Dans les prochaines heures, au niveau européen, nous allons mettre en place un protocole sanitaire solide pour que les flux depuis le Royaume-Uni puissent reprendre. Notre priorité : protéger nos ressortissants et nos concitoyens.
— Jean-Baptiste Djebbari (@Djebbari_JB) December 21, 2020
Schapps said it was in the interest of France to lift the ban since many of the lorries heading for France contain their own goods. He told Sky News: "It’s not really in anybody’s particular interest to not have hauliers going across, not least because they are mostly European hauliers and the goods are mostly theirs, so they will not want them perishing any more than we would want the border closed.”
Other European ports are still allowing trucks to flow to and from the UK but a string of countries, including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, India and Canada, have imposed bans on travellers from the UK.