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U.K. and international shipping: Expect delays given new Coronavirus strain

United Kingdom flag waving behind a chain-link fence with a sign that reads ‘warning coronavirus’

A new highly infectious strain of COVID-19, first reported in Britain during the last half of December, spread quickly through London, southeast England, and other countries. The uptick in cases in the UK and across borders has caused more coronavirus restrictions and delays not only the movement of people but on mail, packages and freight. 

Scores of countries across Europe and the rest of the world have closed their travel borders to Britain as a result of a new, highly infectious strain of coronavirus. Restrictions and delays on cargo—everything from air freight in the bellies of passenger aircraft to movements by sea and land across select borders—can be expected. For example, the Royal Mail has temporarily suspended all mail services to mainland Europe, Canada and Turkey

Shippers, retailers and consumers can expect delays when it comes to packages and freight deliveries especially for those involving destination or origin with the UK and other international countries where new shipping and border restrictions have been imposed as a result of the new COVID-19 variant and general increases in cases. Merchants should check with their freight agents, transportation carriers and fulfillment providers for updates involving their shipments to and from the UK.

Especially for air shipments not shipped via the all-cargo integrated express carriers such as FedEx and UPS, delays on the movement of air cargo and parcels, such as mail and ecommerce deliveries, are expected given likely reductions in UK-related passenger flights. Currently, more than 40 countries have banned UK passenger arrivals within Europe and beyond because of concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus mutation. For a list of countries, see this link by Timeout.

For example, the U.S. currently requires COVID-19 testing for passengers on UK flights following a December 25 U.S. order that all airline passengers arriving from the UK are required to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours of their flight, and must submit evidence of a negative result to travel. 

Driver coronavirus testing is another requirement in order for freight to move between the UK and France. At the Port of Dover in England where ferries cross the English Channel and trucks travel the Eurotunnel into France daily—following a temporary 48-shut down between borders prior to the holiday—delays, traffic jams and backups are still being worked out

The new shipping and border restrictions have also affected private postal carrier, courier and fulfillment partner networks involving the UK. More restrictions are expected after January 1, 2021.

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