France relaxed its coronavirus-related ban on trucks from Britain on Tuesday after a two-day standoff that had stranded thousands of drivers and raised fears of Christmastime food shortages in the UK. French authorities, who had imposed the ban to try to protect the continent from a new variant of the virus that is circulating in London and southeast England, said delivery drivers could enter by ferry or tunnel provided they showed proof of a negative test for the virus, the AP reports. Select passengers will be allowed back on the continent, too. After two days of intense talks with British and European Union partners, French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said in a statement that the coming hours would be dedicated to setting up testing sites so that British truckers could make it to the continent and back in time for Christmas.
At least 2,800 truck drivers had been anxiously waiting near the port of Dover for word they could cross over to the continent. French and British authorities urged them to avoid ports until they can get tested. France also said it would allow EU travelers, along with British citizens with EU residency, back into the country if they had a negative virus test in the preceding 72 hours. British tourists remain barred. Some 40 countries imposed travel bans on Britain, leaving the island nation increasingly isolated, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned over the weekend that the new variant of the virus might be 70% more contagious. But the French restrictions were particularly worrisome, given that Britain relies heavily on its cross-Channel commercial links to the continent for food this time of year.
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