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UK isolation grows as more countries ban travel


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UK isolation grows as more countries ban travel


More countries have banned arrivals from the UK because of concerns at the spread of a new variant of coronavirus.

India is the latest state to suspend flights from the UK, joining Hong Kong, Canada, Switzerland and Germany.

On Sunday evening, France shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferries will be able to sail from the port of Dover.

As queues grow in Kent, Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government's emergency committee later.

Belgium and the Irish Republic have also suspended flights. India will halt flights from Tuesday evening until the evening of 31 December.

Austria is also set to bring in a ban, while Bulgaria has suspended flights to and from the UK from midnight. Unlike the short-term measures in many other nations, its ban lasts until 31 January.

Asked if he could guarantee that Covid-19 vaccine supplies - which come from Belgium - would not be affected by travel bans, Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast: "Yes I can - and the reason is actually that the vaccine wasn't coming in through the roll on, roll off - precious few lorries had brought it in that way.

"It comes via containers and the container traffic isn't affected at all, so this isn't an issue with the vaccine at all."

Iain Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, told BBC Breakfast there was "no need" for shoppers to panic-buy as a result of the border restrictions, but there was "concern" around food supplies in the longer term, particularly after Christmas.

Unaccompanied freight, such as containers or lorry trailers on their own, can still be transported.

About 10,000 lorries a day travel between Dover and Calais during peak periods such as Christmas.

FTSE and pound fall

Shares in London have fallen sharply and the pound has lost ground after several EU countries closed their borders to the UK, which has reported a new variant of coronavirus.

The FTSE 100 share index fell about 1.8%, while the main markets in Germany and France were more than 2% lower.

Sterling fell about 1.4% against the euro and dropped 2% against the dollar.

Restrictions on travel hit airline stocks, with British Airways' owner IAG and EasyJet tumbling 9%.

Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce was also badly hit, falling 9% as well.

The rout was replicated on other European markets. Air France-KLM shares plunged 10%, while plane-maker Airbus fell more than 6%.

As well as renewed concern about Covid-19 cases in the UK, investors were reacting to another missed deadline in trade talks with the EU.

Boris Johnson is trying to reach a trade deal before the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

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