June 12 (UPI) -- The British government said Friday it's delayed plans for full border checks on products imported from the European Union until mid-2021, a move aimed at easing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
British Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said there was concern that mandating the checks immediately after the transition period ends Dec. 31 might add to the economic hardship businesses are already facing due to the health crisis.
Beginning in January, Britain will have autonomy to introduce its own approach to goods imported from the EU.
The government said in February it would impose the full border checks on EU products immediately, on Jan. 1. Instead, they will be now phased-in through a series of three steps that run up until next summer.
The government said beginning in July 2021, all goods must be declared and pay relevant tariffs.
"Full safety and security declarations will be required, while for Sanitary and Phytosanitary commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples: checks for animals, plants and their products will now take place at GB[British] Border Control Posts," it said.
"Today's announcement is an important step towards getting the country ready for the end of the transition period," Gove added. "But there is still more work to be done by both government and industry to ensure we are ready to seize the opportunities of being a fully independent United Kingdom."
The initial move was perceived by some a way to gain leverage over the EU in negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal. The pharmaceutical industry has also voiced concern the COVID-19 crisis could lead to medical shortages if Britain left without a trade deal in place.
Negotiators have been at an impasse and British officials said previously they won't extend the transition period. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also threatened to walk away from talks if there isn't clear progress by June.
A spokesman for EU Council President Charles Michel said he and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will speak with Johnson on Monday to try and break the impasse.