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Drivers barred from Dover Eastern Docks after France closed its borders to the UK over the new coronavirus variant

Lorry and van drivers told of their frustration at being held up at Dover because of the border closure.

French authorities imposed the 48-hour blockage from midnight on Sunday to prevent a new variant of coronavirus in the UK reaching their shores.

A policeman at the docks tells a driver to turn back
A policeman at the docks tells a driver to turn back

Romanian Peter Ionescu, left his lorry in the UK after finishing work and was travelling by car to join his family in his home country for Christmas by car.

He had to sleep in it overnight.

He told KentOnline yesterday: "I have been waiting since 10 last night, It's very frustrating,

"It's not okay to close the border for me or for all the people here."

Several stranded drivers' lorries and vans were parked on Dover Seafront yesterday afternoon.

Peter Ionescu: had to sleep in his car
Peter Ionescu: had to sleep in his car

He continued: "My family and two children are waiting for me for Christmas.

"Self-isolation is not a problem for me but I'd have it in my country, not here and in my car.

"I will come back to the UK next year if everything is all right. If it's not all right I won't come back."

Polish national Daniel Marikiewicz also had to sleep in his van.

He was also trying to reach his home country for Christmas.

Daniel Markiewicz: "It's terrible."
Daniel Markiewicz: "It's terrible."

He said: "It's terrible, I've been waiting here 11 hours. The French authorities gave no information and closed the border."

German resident Zholt Bacs is a non-delivery driver who had come for one day's work in England.

He was trying to get home to Berlin but was stranded in Dover too.

He told KentOnline: "I arrived in the UK yesterday and wanted to get back to Berlin today.

"I booked a ferryboat ticket and I've been trying to get on it but everything is closed.

Stranded passenger Zholt Bacs
Stranded passenger Zholt Bacs

"I stayed last night in a hotel close to Dover."

The news of several European countries shutting their borders to the UK because of the virus was only broken on Sunday night.

Mr Bacs said: "I didn't know about it. I just arrived yesterday morning for a job for one day. I had all the documents for that and I wanted to go back today but it's not possible."

It appeared that most had learned in time about France's shutdown and stayed away from the port.

Traffic on the roads to the port was remarkably light rather than being clogged with queues of vehicles.

A line of trucks move towards the docks
A line of trucks move towards the docks

Many trucks being held back between the M20's Junction 8 and 11 for Operation Stack.

The Eastern Docks entrance was shut to traffic and guarded by police and Port of Dover officials.

Activity picked up in the afternoon as an increasing amount of lorries arrived.

Some truckers blasted their horns in frustration over the long hold-ups.

Most were turned away at the docks entrance but some were let through for the drivers to park their trailers.

Most parking spaces on the seafront were taken by stranded drivers
Most parking spaces on the seafront were taken by stranded drivers

Lorries, however, could be seen leaving the port as sailings were still allowed from France.

This morning talks continue over reopening the border with Home Secretary Priti Patel saying it was in both sides interests to find a solution.

Yesterday morning the French government said the border could reopen "within hours" but latest information points to tomorrow evening.

Operation Brock is in place this morning, with traffic now able to move in both directions on the M20.

Amid rising cases of the new variant the prospect of a third nationwide lockdown is growing increasingly likely.

Sam Lennon reports on the situation at Dover

Read more:All the latest news from Dover

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