Brexit travel chaos may return as Covid restrictions lift, Port of Dover warns

Disruption to trade and travel caused by Brexit may return as Covid restrictions are lifted on holidaymakers, the port of Dover has warned.

The boss Britain’s biggest sea port said there would be “longer transaction times and more processing” thanks to extra bureaucracy imposed because of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

It comes after the government announced people who are double-vaccinated by the NHS will not have to quarantine on their return from foreign countries, potentially opening up new foreign destinations.

Doug Bannister, the port’s chief executive, said the transition to the new Brexit rules had been relatively smooth so far “because we haven’t seen the demand for tourists coming from our facilities, as we would normally expect to see”.

Dover has modelled the impact of a return of passenger cars to the port. Mr Bannister said a fast return to travel could cause issues.

“It’s at those points in time when the pressure on the total system increases,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Around 2.4 million trucks used the Dover port in 2019, along with 2 million tourist cars and 74,000 coaches.

There were long queues at ports in the run-up to Brexit as businesses stockpiled ahead of expected disruption.

Delays caused by new customs and border procedures have put some time-sensitive industries, such as seafood, at a disadvantage or out of business entirely – though most are still able to trade.

However, trade with the EU still fell by a fifth in the first quarter in 2021. Ministers blamed Covid, but the fall for trade with non-EU countries was just 0.8 per cent over the same period – suggesting a much stronger new barriers for trade with Europe.

Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that people returning from Amber list countries would not have to quarantine from Monday July 26 – though restrictions on red list countries will still remain.

The change effectively opens up summer holidays to millions of people, though restrictions imposed on British travellers by individual host countries could still apply.

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