Ports shut as UK cut off from Europe

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Israel and Canada were among those that shut off travel ties after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a highly infectious new strain of the virus was a danger to the country.

Johnson is due to hold an emergency response meeting later on Monday to discuss international travel, in particular the flow of freight in and out of Britain.

France shut its border to arrivals of people and trucks from the United Kingdom, closing off one of the most important trade arteries with mainland Europe, a step transport minister Grant Shapps said was surprising.

French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari later said his government aims to establish Europe-wide sanitary protocol measures "in the coming hours" to allow the resumption of traffic flows with the United Kingdom.

As families and truck drivers tried to navigate the travel bans to get back home in time for Christmas, Britain's second-largest supermarket chain, Sainsbury's, said gaps will start to appear on shelves within days if transport ties are not quickly restored with mainland Europe.