EU recommends against non-essential travel to the U.K.

The European Union recommended Tuesday that all 27 member countries should discourage all non-essential travel to and from the United Kingdom until further notice.

With EU countries imposing ad-hoc restrictions on U.K. travel following the emergence of a new coronavirus variant, the European Commission urged them to take a co-ordinated approach, but not prevent people in the U.K. or Europe from returning to their homes.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said “member states should take co-ordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the U.K. and the EU. At the same time, blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and U.K. citizens from returning to their homes.”

The EU’s executive arm said people returning to their home countries or main place of residence should be able to do so provided they produce a negative test or quarantine themselves. Transport workers should be exempt from any travel ban when they are travelling across a border to and from a vessel, vehicle or aircraft. Essential medical staff should be able to move freely without quarantine provided that they have tested negative within 72 hours of travel.

More than 1,500 trucks snaked along a major highway in southeast England near the country’s vital Channel ports or were crowded into a disused airport, illustrating the scale of Britain’s isolation after countries from Canada to India banned flights from the U.K. and France barred the entry of its trucks for 48 hours beginning Sunday night.

Turkish long-haul truck drivers sit down to breakfast at a truck stop off the M20 motorway, which leads to the Port of Dover, on Tuesday. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Stranded truck drivers near the port of Dover said they just wanted to get back home in time for Christmas. Most slept overnight in their trucks.

“My chances of going home for Christmas are going down. It’s stupid and I am nervous and unhappy about that,” said Stanislaw Olbrich, a 55-year-old Polish trucker stuck 40 kilometres north of Dover.