World closes borders to Britain

Lorries halted, passengers stranded, and Christmas essentially canceled.

As the United Kingdom battles a new more infectious strain of the coronavirus, Russia, India, Canada, and Hong Kong have joined the growing number of countries to cut off travel to the UK, causing visitors to rush home and Britons -- like student Brodie -- to rush back.

"It was almost like a ticking time bomb because we didn't know whether it was going to close immediately, or when it was going to close, I think we've seen more EU countries announcing that they are going to put restrictions in place so we didn't know whether it was going to go now or later, but we are very thankful that we are able to leave."

France has shut its border not only to UK arrivals but also to trucks, closing off one of the most important trade arteries with mainland Europe and raising the prospect of UK food shortages.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain was well-positioned for disruption thanks to preparations already in place for the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31.

But British supermarkets like Sainsbury's said shortages would start to appear within days if transport ties were not quickly restored.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher restrictions for millions of people in England less than a week before Christmas.

People dashed to train stations to travel home before they came into force.

Johnson said there was no evidence that the new variant, which is said to be up to 70% more infectious, was more lethal or caused a more severe illness.

Shapps said Britain was simply seeing what was already at large in other countries.

“We've detected that first, but we know already that the cases have been found in continental Europe and other countries, including countries which have placed travel bans in the Netherlands, for example, actually have much higher case rates per 100,000 than the UK at the moment.”

The global alarm was reflected in financial markets.

European shares slumped, with travel and leisure stocks bearing the brunt of the pain.

And the British pound tumbled 2.5% against the dollar.