Trucks Dover England
Trucks are parked in a holding area, in this aerial photo taken from video, lined up at former airfield in Manston, England, close to the M20 highway that runs to the port of Dover, Britain's main ferry connection with mainland Europe in northern France, Tuesday Dec. 22, 2020. The goods trucks are waiting to get out of Britain as France barred travel from the UK for 48 hours because of a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England. Image Credit: AP

Calais: Freight from Britain and passengers with a negative virus test began arriving on French shores Wednesday, after France relaxed a two-day blockade over a new virus variant that had isolated Britain, stranded thousands of drivers and raised fears of shortages.

Associated Press reporters witnessed a ferry pulling into the French port of Calais before dawn and trains carrying freight and car passengers were allowed to cross to the continent beneath the English Channel again.

People arriving from Britain are required to have a virus test capable of detecting the new variant, according to a late-night agreement reached after 48 hours of frenzied negotiations among French, British and EU authorities. European nations and others around the world began slamming borders shut to Britain on Sunday, a day after the UK prime minister announced that the new variant was mostly responsible for an enormous surge in new infections in London and southern England and he was imposing tight new lockdown restrictions.

The company that runs the Eurotunnel said Wednesday that truck drivers lined up on the highway leading to the English port of Dover are being tested for the virus, but that it may take some time for traffic to resume as normal after massive backup.

Calais is a major conduit for trade and travel between Britain and the continent, and France had argued that the blockade was necessary in order to work out safety measures to protect European citizens.

The French travel restrictions had angered and worried many in the UK because the nation relies heavily on its cross-Channel commercial links to the continent for food at this time of year, especially for fruit and fresh produce.