Part of the M50 in Herefordshire was forced to close last night due to severe flooding, as well as parts of the M4 and M48. Train services were also cancelled in a number of areas as flooding blocked rail lines.
Meanwhile in Kent, lorry drivers who have been stuck in the UK while waiting to travel to France due to sudden border restrictions have slowly begun to cross the Channel. Thousands still are waiting to be tested for coronavirus, as only hauliers with a negative Covid test will be allowed to cross into France.
Fewer than 100 vehicles left in Port of Dover
Fewer than 100 vehicles left the Port of Dover on Wednesday night, as thousands more remain stranded in Kent on Christmas Eve.
Drivers, including many who have been waiting in queues since Sunday, are allowed to cross the Channel once they have returned negative coronavirus tests, which are being administered by members of the military and French firefighters.
When asked how many lorries have been able to leave via ferry since Sunday, a Port of Dover spokesperson said: “Overnight, due to restrictions on testing, the port received under 100 freight vehicles.
“However, now testing has fully mobilised at the port we anticipate that figure rising significantly throughout the day.”
Kate Ng24 December 2020 12:18
Thousands of lorry drivers expected to spend Christmas on the A2
Thousands of lorry drivers are likely to spend Christmas stranded in Kent as the government has indicated queues will not start to move for at least another 24 hours.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the 6,000 lorries, some of which have been parked on the A2 since Sunday, will begin moving on Christmas Day.
French firemen have been brought in to Dover to help the British military and NHS Test and Trace to continue testing hauliers, as they can only cross the Channel with a negative Covid test.
Mr Shapps said France and the UK had agreed to keep the border open at Dover, the Eurotunnel and Calais “throughout Christmas” to get citizens and hauliers cleared “as soon as possible”. He also promised that ferries will sail on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Trucks began entering the Eurotunnel again on Wednesday after drivers started producing negative Covid-19 results, but it is feared it could take days to carry out all the tests.
Kate Ng24 December 2020 11:20
Travellers from UK to New York face two week police-enforced self-isolation
Special measures will apply to people arriving in New York from the UK, in addition to mandatory self-isolation for two weeks upon arrival.
The city’s mayor Bill de Blasio announced a 14-day quarantine for travellers from the UK in response to the new variant of coronavirus that emerged in the UK.
Anyone who breaches the rules will be fined $1,000 (£750) for each day’s breach, reports our Travel Correspondent Simon Calder. Read his full report:
Kate Ng24 December 2020 11:00
Santa to perform ‘high energy manoeuvres’, says NATS
NATS, the UK-Based air traffic control company, has issued an “urgent message” for UK airspace users, warning them to be on “alert” for Santa’s sleigh this evening, which will be carrying out a present drop operation.
In an entertaining “warning”, the company said there will be a sleigh with the callsign “SANTA01”, powered by eight reindeer and a ninth “fitted with optional air navigation beacon” and travelling at “hypersonic speed” through the UK’s airspace.
“Crews are to be especially alert when transmitting areas with high concentrations of well-behaved children, refer to updated N.I.C.E. list (2020 revised edition,” said the company.
The sleigh is expected to perform “high energy manoeuvres and will not comply with normal rules of the air”.
“Social distancing from other airspace users to be maintained at all times. Children to supply cookies and/or mince pies with milk and/or sherry to enable pilot refuelling.
“Children to be asleep to ensure successful present drop,” added the message.
Kate Ng24 December 2020 10:40
Flooding in roads in Woolley, West Yorkshire
Highways England are still trying to clear flooding on the A14 in Woolley, West Yorkshire, but added it “will take some time”.
Kate Ng24 December 2020 10:20
Testing continues for lorry drivers stranded in Kent
Here are some of the scenes from Dover, as Covid testing of lorry drivers continues to clear the backlog and allow hauliers to return to the EU.
Kate Ng24 December 2020 09:59
100 flood warnings in force
Emergency services across England and Wales have been inundated with calls overnight as the deluge of rain caused flooding in some areas.
More than 90 flood warnings were issued for England on Thursday morning, with at least 16 warnings in relation to the River Severn on the Welsh border.
My colleague Chantal da Silva reports on the details:
Kate Ng24 December 2020 09:29
A14 East and West closed
The road policing unit for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire has said the A14 East and West is still closed between Thrapson and Ellington due to flooding.
The force also said that many roads in Cambridgeshire are “completely not passable”, and urged people to stay at home.
Kate Ng24 December 2020 09:10
Ferries will sail on Christmas and Boxing Day
Grant Shapps has also promised that ferries will sail on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as he praised French firemen for their “great cooperation” in helping to test the thousands of drivers who have been stranded at the Port of Dover this week.
He said: “As well as ensuring ferries will now sail on Christmas and Boxing Day, we’ve also got great cooperation by French firemen working with NHS Test and Trace and our brilliant military in a big effort to clear the backlog created by the French border closure.”
Kate Ng24 December 2020 08:40
UK-France border to remain open through Christmas
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced that France has agreed with the UK to keep the border at Eurotunnel, Dover and Calais open to allow hauliers and EU citizens return home.
Thousands of lorry drivers and EU citizens found themselves stranded in the UK earlier this week, and are still waiting to be tested for coronavirus so they can cross the Channel.
Only those with a negative Covid test will be allowed to cross the border.
Kate Ng24 December 2020 08:29