We here in the U.S. are so wrapped up in our own struggles that we rarely take a moment these days to think about what is happening elsewhere in the world. About ¼ of my readership is from the UK and EU, so I try to stay abreast of the happenings there. But, since many of you may not be aware, I want to tell you today about the latest troubles in the United Kingdom (UK).
In the UK, there has been a new strain of the coronavirus that has largely shut down the entire country. Other nations are banning travelers from the United Kingdom, and the EU has placed a 48-hour ban on even trucks carrying essential food and medical supplies from crossing the border. The U.S. has not yet imposed a travel ban, but I won’t be surprised to hear that they have by the end of today.
UK officials claim the new strain is up to 70% more contagious than the strains already existing, though scientists warn there is no evidence of that yet and it has not yet been confirmed by lab testing. Nonetheless, the government is taking no chances.
Already, the UK is in full lockdown, essential travel only is permitted, and Christmas is looking mighty bleak for our friends across the pond. Grocery shelves are already being depleted, and now trucks carrying food cannot cross into the UK to help replenish those shelves. Trucks loaded with cargo were backed up for miles trying to get into and out of Britain, while many travelers have been left stranded at U.K. airports. My guess is that this new strain will have already spread into EU countries, as well as the U.S., Canada and other nations, but we just don’t know it yet … we likely will by the end of the week.
The looming Brexit deadline throws yet another wrench into the works. NPR’s Frank Langfitt reporting from London writes …
“It feels much more isolated than it did just a few days ago here on the island of Great Britain. The Eurotunnel, which also runs under the channel, is also closed. It seems to be a precautionary measure for about 48 hours. There’s a lot of concern around the Christmas season. We’ve already seen backups at the Port of Dover 20 miles long. And what’s been happening is people are trying to get freight across the channel before the deadline of the Brexit transition period, which is going to end on New Year’s Eve.”
I ask you to keep our friends ‘cross the pond in your hearts this week, and when you start to feel a bit frustrated that Christmas this year isn’t quite what it usually is, please remember our friends in the UK, many of whom will be deprived of seeing family, will be struggling to find food, and are largely isolated in their homes. Send them a card or a note online to let them know you’re thinking of them.
To all my UK friends: My heart breaks for what you are going through — this post was written through a veil of tears — and my special wish for you is that things improve soon, that you are able to spend time with loved ones before long, that you have enough food to eat, and please, dear friends … keep safe. Love ‘n hugs to you all.