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Lufthansa airlifts 80 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to UK amid border chaos

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Police stand next to an electronic notice notifying about coronavirus testing to help clear a backlog of freight, truck and passengers outside the Port of Dover in Dover.
Police stand next to an electronic notice notifying about coronavirus testing to help clear a backlog of freight, truck and passengers outside the Port of Dover in Dover.   -   Copyright  Frank Augstein/AP Photo
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Lufthansa airlifted 80 tonnes of fruit and vegetables to the United Kingdom on Wednesday after border closures due to the new variant of coronavirus caused chaos.

Queues of lorries lined up at ports this week after France closed the border over the rapid spreading of the more transmissible new variant of the virus in the southeast of England. Several other European countries had stopped travel from the United Kingdom.

Supermarkets had quickly sounded the alarm as they rely heavily on the English Channel traffic for fruit and vegetables in winter.

Sainsbury's had warned that the closures could cause gaps in stocks imminently.

Lufthansa sent a plane to Doncaster with fruit and vegetables, stating that they were examining "whether additional special cargo flights" could be offered over the next days.

Several countries closed their borders to the United Kingdom after officials said a new strain of coronavirus was spreading rapidly. UK scientists said they believe with "high confidence" that the new strain is more transmissible.

France agreed with the UK on Tuesday to reopen ports for citizens, residents and those with a "legitimate reason" for travel but people a required to have a negative coronavirus test.

The EU transport minister Adina Valean criticised the border closures, tweeting: "I deplore that France went against our recommendations and brought us back to the situation we were in in March when the supply chains were interrupted."

On Wednesday night she tweeted: "I am pleased that at this moment, we have trucks slowly crossing the channel, and I want to thank UK authorities that they started testing the drivers at a capacity of 300 tests per hour."