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France to reopen border to residents, truck drivers with negative COVID-19 tests

France to reopen border to residents, truck drivers with negative COVID-19 tests
Hundreds of tractor-trailers park up on one of the main roads to Dover Port as France bans travel to its mainland Tuesday. France said it will open the border again but only to its residents and truckers with proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- France said Tuesday it will reopen its border with Britain but only to its own residents and commercial drivers who can provide a recent negative coronavirus test.

The move comes after France left nearly 3,000 commercial vehicles stranded at the border between Dover in Britain and Calais in France for fear of spreading a new variant of COVID-19.

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The European Commission on Tuesday called on its alliance members to end blanket travels bans for those traveling in and out of Britain. The body said travel bans should have exemptions to prevent the disruptions that are occurring at the border.

"Given the current uncertainties and in light of the precautionary principle, member states should take coordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between [Britain] and the [European Union]," Didier Reynders, the EU's commissioner for justice, said in a statement.

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"At the same time, blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and [British] citizens from returning to their homes. While precautions are needed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant, with today's recommendation, we therefore ensure that the restrictions are coordinated and provide for the necessary exemptions for citizens and residents returning home and other essential travelers," Reynders said.

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Nearly 3,000 commercial trucks were stuck in Britain's port in Dover after France closed its border over fears of spreading a variant of the coronavirus but could also be a preview of a no-deal Brexit.

The border closure at Dover is just the latest headache for Britain, where nearly 40 countries initially erected travel restrictions with the country and others that have reported documents cases of the new COVID-19 variant.

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Britain and the European Union is current at a standstill in trade negotiations that needs to be approved by the end of the year.

"Supply chains were already under pressure from the upcoming Jan. 1 changes, so adding border closure has left us looking rather vulnerable," David Henig, the British director of the European Center for International Political Economy. "This is also coming at a poor time for global confidence in [Britain], given border barriers are about to rise."

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