*Concerns About Coronavirus Variant Cut Off U.K. From Europe
*This report from the New York Times
Dozens of countries banned have now Banned or Limited air and rail links to Britain, foreshadowing what a “no-deal” Brexit could look like in 10 days.
Britain was all but cut off from the rest of Europe on Monday, with flights and trains banned by some 40 countries and freight deliveries halted at French ports, as its neighbors tried desperately to stop a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus from leaping across the English Channel.
The sudden disruption left Britain isolated and unnerved, its people stranded at airports or quarantined at home. It aroused fears of panic buying in British supermarkets, as a nation already rattled by a mysterious new strain of the virus now had to worry about running out of fresh food in the days before Christmas.
It all added up to a chilling preview, a mere 10 days before the deadline to negotiate a post-Brexit trade agreement between Britain and the European Union, of what a chaotic rupture between the two sides might actually look like.
For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose handling of the pandemic has been hampered by a reluctance to take tough
For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose handling of the pandemic has been hampered by a reluctance to take tough measures followed by abrupt reversals in the face of alarming new evidence, the cascading events posed perhaps the gravest challenge yet to his ardently pro-Brexit government.
As he huddled in emergency meetings, Mr. Johnson was simultaneously dealing with an escalating public health crisis, deepening economic upheaval and trade talks in Brussels that could cement the break between Britain and its neighbors.
Still, the multiplying problems hammered the stock market and depressed the pound. And there was an unnerving sense that Britain was entering a new, more volatile phase of the pandemic at the very moment that its relationship with its largest trading partner was being thrust into uncharted territory.
Mr. Johnson said that he had telephoned President Emmanuel Macron and that the French leader told him “he was keen to sort it out in the next few hours.” Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Johnson assured Britons, “Everyone can continue to shop normally.”
The French Transport Minister Clément Beaune said his country would by Tuesday announce what would replace the initial 48-hour ban on travellers and lorries.
In Brussels, officials have been holding talks on finding a coordinated response from the EU’s 27 members.
No decision is expected until Tuesday, but one option discussed was demanding that UK arrivals test negative for Covid-19 before they leave.
ow passengers who test negative for the coronavirus to fly to New York’s John F Kennedy airport.