At least 31 countries, including 18 in the neighboring European Union, have banned travel from the United Kingdom after the British government warned that a new variant of the coronavirus could be up to 70% more transmissible.
Why it matters: Supply chains are being disrupted just days before the U.K. is set to end the Brexit transition period without a free trade agreement with the EU – its largest and closest trading partner. A no-deal Brexit could cause massive damage to a British economy that’s already been ravaged by the pandemic.
Driving the news: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to hold an emergency meeting of advisers after France announced Sunday that it would close its borders for 48 hours, blocking off ports that account for roughly 20% of the U.K.’s trade in goods, according to AP.
- The government has urged people not to travel to the county of Kent, which hosts many of the cross-channel ports used for access to the European continent and sees about 10,000 freight trucks a day through the Dover-Calais crossing.
- European Union officials will meet Monday to discuss a coordinated response to the new coronavirus variant, which has been detected in Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands, according to the BBC.
Between the lines: There is thus far no evidence that the new variant of coronavirus is more deadly – only that it appears more transmissible. Th