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Pandemic and Brexit Leading to U.K. Chaos Ahead of Christmas

people near Big Ben in London

A new variant of COVID-19 and increasing concerns about the country’s exit from the European Union are causing significant problems in the U.K. days before Christmas.


London and other locations in England entered “Tier 4” lockdown restrictions on Dec. 20.

The restrictions announced by Prime Minster Boris Johnson are due to the emergence of a fast-spreading variant of COVID-19 believed to be as much as 70% more transmissible than the original virus, reported Business Insider (Dec. 19).

Although little is known about the variant, Johnson explained that immediate action was required saying, “We already know more than enough to be sure that we must act now.” Residents will be expected to stay home with limited exemptions. Non-essential retail, indoor gyms, leisure facilities, and personal care services are all closed. Citizens are being advised not to travel and Christmas will be “canceled” for those in Tier 4 areas.


European nations also restricted U.K. trade and travel to guard against the resurgent coronavirus, causing the U.K. to confront threats of food insecurity and panicked shopping, reported Bloomberg (Dec. 21).

On Dec. 20, France suspended travel from the U.K. for 48 hours, while Germany and Italy halted arriving flights from Britain, with Spain and Portugal following suit.

Container ports and ferry terminals are congested because of stockpiling ahead of the Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, resulting in cargo pileups and supply-chain disruptions across different industries.

Another transport problem of note is the more than 100 EU-bound seafood trucks headed for Christmas wholesale markets in France and Spain. Fears are mounting that live shellfish will spoil if the trucks are held up at the border, according to James Withers, CEO at the Scotland Food & Drink industry group, who called the situation “the nightmare before Christmas.”

These situations all offer a preview of the possible chaos that lies ahead without a Brexit deal.