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Boris Johnson tries to calm food and medicine shortage fears as world isolates Britain

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Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference. Photo: Toby Melville - WPA Pool / Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference. Photo: Toby Melville - WPA Pool / Getty Images

UK prime minister Boris Johnson tried to quell fears of food and supply shortages as over 40 countries around the world have banned flights and other forms of travel from the UK.

He said at a press conference on Monday that although France has blocked lorries from the UK from crossing the border, delay in supplies will only affect a small minority of food and medicine coming into the UK.

Johnson said more than 500,000 people in the UK have had their first vaccine dose.

He claimed that the number of lorries waiting on the A20 has dropped from 500 to 170 and delays at Dover only affect "human-handled freight,” which accounts for just about 20% of the total going to continental Europe. Johnson added that the UK government has been preparing "for a long time" for such a situation.

He added that he has spoken to French president Emmanuel Macron but did not give any further details on whether France would start opening up the border for UK lorry drivers, at least.

The press conference comes just 48 hours after Johnson’s cabinet, as well as the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland, plunged 18 million citizens into the most restrictive set of rules related to preventing the spread of coronavirus — Tier 4.

On Saturday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced stricter coronavirus measures in London, the South East and East of England amid concerns about the spread of the new COVID strain that is allegedly 70% more transmissible. This also led to Wales and Scotland implementing their own similar measures.

On Sunday into this week, countries across the globe — not just Europe — started implementing bans on flights and freight from the UK to stop the spread of the virus across borders.

The EU is expected to give a unified statement and response on Tuesday.

As of Monday, the UK recorded a further 33,364 positive coronavirus cases, as well as a further 215 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

WATCH: UK stocks and pound tumble as Europe shuts borders

UK plunged into chaos over new COVID strain

Mutant strains of a virus are largely expected but the fact that government scientists say it is 70% more infectious, means restrictions for movement have been swift.

However, it’s not just about citizens being able to work and see family — it has a significant impact on the economy, trade, and business — even if it’s for the “short term.”

  • FULL LIST OF COUNTRIES BANNING TRAVEL FROM UK: The list is continually growing — over 40 countries have banned UK flights — further isolating the country as a whole.

  • There is huge fear over Christmas food shortages: With lorries unable to go across the Channel, in particular, from France, this will impact food supplies. The boss of one of the UK’s largest supermarkets has warned that fresh fruit and vegetables could run out within days. FDF CEO Ian Wright told Yahoo Finance UK: “Yesterday’s suspension of accompanied freight traffic from the UK to France has the potential to cause serious disruption to UK post-Christmas fresh food supplies – and exports of UK food and drink.

  • Concerns rise for medical supplies and vaccines: As with food, the flow of medical supplies and vaccines could be disrupted.

  • UK stocks tumble as Europe shuts borders: The airline and travel industry has already cut hundreds of thousands of jobs with some facing bankruptcy or fallen into administration. Now, after wide-scale travel bans, it looks like the airline industry will be smashed again.

  • Pound also crashes: Compounded by the lack of movement on Brexit deal talks, the pound has fallen off a cliff — being down by 2% which is huge for a currency.

  • People out of pocket: Cancelled flights means rebooking and often a lengthy wait for refunds.

WATCH: Should I book a holiday in 2021?